Film Scouts Reviews

"Escape from L.A."

by Leslie Rigoulot

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August 9, 1996

You aren't supposed to take 12-year-olds to see R-rated action flicks, but since "John Carpenter's Escape from LA" is aimed right at that adolescent/testosterone level, I figured "Why not?" Well, the reason why not is because even a 12 year old boy was bored with "Escape". "It was OK, but could we rent the original." was his response. Well, that pretty much summed up what I was thinking. John Carpenter's name isn't just part of the title, it appears in the director, musical scorer, and writer categories as well. And how did they get Kurt Russell to reprise his role from "Escape from New York"? Well, his name appears in the writing and producing columns, so this is apparently something he wanted, not something he had to be convinced to do. After the big LA earthquake of '94, Russell approached Carpenter with the concept; since most people were plotting escapes from LA, why not do it with Snake Plissken?

The year is 2013 and LA has been made into an island by an earthquake. The US government is now controlled by a religious zealot, portrayed by Cliff Robertson. All immoral and illegal acts are punishable by deportation to the island of LA where anarchy thrives. But the president's daughter, played scantily by A.J. Langer, has stolen a doomsday device and turned it over to LA's revolutionary Cuervo Jones (I love that name!), a rather non-menacing George Corraface. Enter Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, the ultimate survivor who is forced into finding the device. What I really enjoyed were the slams at Universal, Disney and the LA lifestyle, which include a wicked send-up of plastic surgery. The characters who drop in and out are a little distracting but you have to at least admire the names of Map to the Stars Eddie: Steve Buscemi, Pipeline: Peter Fonda, Surgeon General of Beverly Hills: Bruce Campbell and Hershe: Pam Grier. But in trying to add political commentary on the religious right, the fun is taken out of what needed to be a dry-wit vent. Carpenter is best at what most consider the worst. Movies like "The Fog, "Halloween", "Big Trouble in Little China" and "Eyes of Laura Mars" have made Carpenter rich and respected for the level of entertainment they provide, not their messages. And frankly, the message that Kurt Russell can still fit into the original Snake costume from 16 years ago is all I wanted to comprehend. Rated R, for violence, language and adult situations.

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