Escape From New York (Blu-ray)
It’s no secret that I love Kurt Russell. He has played some of the most iconic characters of all time. Snake Plissken is one of his best and incidentally one of his own personal favorites. He is the reason this film works as well as it does, however the more it dates the less it holds up, but I still appreciate the premise.
Snake Plissken is a patch wearing bad dude who has countless heroic medals but has been convicted of a crime for mostly marching to a beat of his own drum, meaning, he does what he wants. By 1988 crime had risen 400 percent so by 1997 (when the film takes place) the government has turned New York’s entire Manhattan Island into it’s own prison, guarding the water around the borders. Criminals get in but they don’t get out. Some freedom fighters kidnap Air Force One and crash it into Manhattan Island. Snake is offered a full pardon if he can rescue the surviving President of the United States and the confidential items that are locked in a brief case and handcuffed to his wrist. In order to make sure Snake follows through, the officer in charge injects a chemical in him that will kill him in 24 hours if he hasn’t returned. Snake is given a variety of Bond like weapons to achieve his mission of infiltrating the prison, fighting off the crazies and rescuing the President safely.
So some of this is a bit ridiculous since we are currently 13 years past the future in which the story takes place, but it’s important to remember ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK was made in 1981. How is 1981 supposed to know that by 1997 information would be put on a disc rather than a cassette? Or for those in 2010 looking back with our iphones using the Internet to visually and audibly send information anywhere we want instantly? So yes, the film is clearly dated but that is the risk that is ran when making a film in the not so distant future and relying on current technology rather than creating new possibilities.
A few unlikely stars show up as well. Oscar Winning Ernest Borgnine as a helpful goofy cab driver name Cabbie, Harry Dean Stanton as the smart guy named Brain, musical artist Isaac Hayes as the prison villain named The Duke and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY’s Lee Van Cleef all round out the colorful cast. Even though Russell holds strong as one of his coolest characters and delivers some fun scenes in an interesting futuristic idea, ultimately the film just doesn’t stand the test of time.
Video: (Widescreen 2.35:1) The black levels are pretty heavy even for a dark sci-fi film.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) Not bad, the score by John Carpenter is simple but effective for the futuristic feel. Not too many stand out surround sound moments.
This Blu-ray offers nothing special except for an extra DVD copy of the film, which is probably nearly as good. If you are a fan of the film grab it from the ten-dollar bin but I want and expect more from this classic.