Re-released alongside three other John Carpenter
4K restorations, the horror master’s dystopian action sci-fi from 1981 seethes on the big screen while seeming paradoxically low-fi next to the great swathe of action trash that followed in its wake. Escape From New York melts urban/punk Noir aesthetics into 80s action with a dash of inadvertent political/ social commentary that’s less at the subtext’s foreground than the consumerism/ conformity nods in They Live
, but “evident” in retrospect.
The concept is high: it’s 1997 (the future/ “Now”), Liberty island has been transformed into a maximum security prison. Air Force One
crashes there, leaving Us president (Donald Pleasence
) stranded. The government dispatches scowling one-eyed convict Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell
) to rescue him, armed with a gun, tracker, the chance of freedom and a deadly serum pumping through his veins that will only be neutralized upon the president’s safe return.
The set-up imparts,