At last! Escape from New York (a personal all-time favourite) receives the Special Edition treatment it so rightly deserves. Directed by John Carpenter long before, if the general opinion is to be acknowledged, his fall from directorial goodness.
Personally speaking I love all things John Carpenter - good or bad regardless. His films have a look, a feel and a sound that is both distinctive and unique. Escape from New York has, over time, gathered much acclaim and affection (I think the term "Cult Classic" somehow demeans this movie) for both the film itself and it's lead character Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell.
This collaboration between Carpenter and Russell would extend to several different projects, all of which will be known to most. Also of note is the remainder of the cast list, the gathering includes Lee Van Cleef, Harry Dean Stanton, Ernest Borgnine, Issac Hayes and Donald Pleasence all of whom are respected in one genre or another.
The year is 1997 and the planet is on the brink of world war. Racing to deliver a speech to a world summit meeting, in a last bid attempt to avoid global Armageddon is the President of the United States. When his jet is hijacked by a suicide terrorist squad, with the express intention of crashing the aircraft into the Manhattan cityscape, the nearby Liberty Island Security Center tracks the release of an escape pod just as the aircraft plunges into a high rise building.
Things are considerably worse than they seem, as Manhattan Island is now a totally enclosed maximum-security penitentiary. Surrounded by wall and water, constantly patrolled by air with any attempt at escape or dissent met with lethal force. The city is now inhabited by the most vile, dangerous and socially unacceptable individuals, gang rule is the order of the day. The inmates, once deposited within the city, are left to whatever life they can make for themselves with no hope of parole or escape.
Snake Plissken, a decorated ex-special services operative convicted for an armed robbery, is due to depart from the Liberty Island Security Center for lifelong banishment to New York. He is given an on-the-spot offer; if the President can be returned alive within 24 hours Plissken will given full pardon for his crimes and released.
On accepting the offer Plissken is then duped into receiving an injection (to ensure his return), which contains micro-explosives that are running on a similar 24-hour time scale. Should he not return within 24 hours with or without the President, then his jugular will erupt and make for a bad day. Armed with high-tech weaponry and a glider to secrete his arrival and escape Plissken sets about his rescue mission.
This film is as dark in tone as most of the scenes; New York is portrayed as a dark, desperate and dangerous place. Social structure is in total abandonment and many of the inmates have degenerated to subhuman, merciless and animalistic levels.
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