1996 / Director. John Carpenter.
There are certain movie moments, which define what I love about cinema. One of those moments so happens to be Kurt Russell surfing a tsunami alongside Peter Fonda while Steve Buscemi drives along a highway beside them. Honestly, it doesn't get much better than that for this giddy movie geek. For this scene and this scene alone, ESCAPE FROM LA is a fucking gnarly movie! Oh and it just go happens to be a balls-to-the-wall sequel to Escape from New York. Clearly the original 1981 film is a cult classic and many will argue that it should have stood alone. I disagree, though, and consider this '96 follow up to be a hugely underrated gem. Snake Plissken returns 16 years following his previous exploits and America has become an ultraconservative nation ruled by an extreme right-winged government, who's president has been self appointed to a life term in office. Los Angeles has been separated from the mainland by a mega quake some years prior and as with the first movie, all of the county's undesirables are dumped there for life. Snake has been recaptured and given the ultimatum; rescue a secret government recording from LA or die. And so the adventure begins and while the plot is more or less a rehash of the first movie, this outing is far more satirical and self-referential. John Carpenter, Debra Hill and Kurt Russell co-wrote the script and their tongues are planted firmly in their cheeks. What ensues is a fantastically audacious and action-packed escapade that pushes the limits of acceptance to dizzy heights. As I referred to before, the tsunami surf scene captures the film's essence perfectly. Snake Plissken is a larger than life character and with each jaunt he faces insurmountable absurdities and predicaments. As far as I'm concerned ESCAPE FROM LA has appreciated with time. Carpenter has always had a flare for practical FX and he uses miniatures, forced perspective and chrome-key so affectively. In this sequel he also experiments with CGI and while these effects are hokey, they are still brazen and audacious. With these elements combined with the traditional FX Carpenter has crafted a surreal and exhilarating action-adventure that deserves a new sequel. Kurt Russell has been pushing for a 3rd movie for over 15 years and I reckon it's high time we got one. The proposal was Escape From Earth... How can Hollywood keep ignoring such a kick-ass and iconic character?? Unleash the Plissken!