Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1996. Paramount Pictures, Rysher Entertainment. Story by John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Screenplay by John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Kurt Russell. Cinematography by Gary B. Kibbe. Produced by Debra Hill, Kurt Russell. Music by John Carpenter, Shirley Walker. Production Design by Lawrence G. Paull. Costume Design by Robin Michel Bush. Film Editing by Edward A. Warschilka.
John Carpenter returns to his early eighties cult classic with virtually the same plot on a higher budget. Kurt Russell is in fine form (especially his hair) in his second outing as Snake Plissken, the renegade called upon to help the government when yet another major city that has become a sequestered war zone needs someone to go behind enemy lines on a recovery mission. Earthquakes in the late nineties have rendered Los Angeles an island, and with conservative President For Life Cliff Robertson in charge, L.A. is the the place where criminals are sent to be kept from the rest of moral America. Robertson’s daughter has joined the rebel leader (Georges Corraface) who lives there and has in his possession a remote control that can turn all the satellites pointed at earth into doomsday weapons. Russell is infected with a virus that he will only get the antidote for if he achieves his mission of getting the remote back, making it imperative that he navigate old sewers, crumbled buildings, a cult of plastic surgery victims and some far out surfers (led by Peter Fonda) to achieve his goal. Snide jokes about Hollywood in decay are relayed lightly enough, and the film doesn’t seem to be completely unaware that it is kitschy nonsense, but perhaps the more ragged look of the original will suit audiences better than something with too much money to spend. The homegrown-looking visual effects and silly excuses for action sequences that normally make Carpenter’s films such an underground delight are harder to appreciate in something that is both slick and cultish at the same time.