Escape from New York (1981)

Review by CJ

Escape from New York

John Carpenter

Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau

Other notable appearances:
Jamie Lee Curtis

Running time:
99 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Tango and Cash, Big Trouble in Little China 


It’s 1997 and New York has been turned into a maximum security prison. When Air Force One crashes and the president is taken prisoner, future inmate Snake Plissken (Russell) is given a choice — save the president and earn his freedom or die.

I love 80s action movies. The more explosions, gunfights and wisecracks the better. Which is why I can’t believe it has taken me this long to watch Escape from New York. It is a very enjoyable “sit down and don’t think too much” type film.

While I haven’t met them all, I have never met a John Carpenter movie I didn’t like. Carpenter is an impressive writer and director. His work on Escape from New York is no different. The film has a dark and gritty feel which is exactly what you want. The security station scenes are clean and sharp while the scenes that take place in the prison are dirty and chaotic. These two aesthetics contrast severely and the effect is fantastic to watch. Order against chaos.

A very young Kurt Russell performs his first lead role in an action movie well. He does a great job playing the sullen and withdrawn Snake.

There aren’t as many wisecracks in Escape from New York as I usually like. There are plenty of gunfights and explosions to make up for it. Also, Escape from New York has a unique plot when you keep in mind it was made in 1981.

Escape from New York is a fun mindless action movie with a good plot. I can see why it has become such a cult hit and definitely recommend it to any action movie fans who have not yet seen it.

4 Stars

“In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple: once you go in, you don’t come out.”

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