Escape from New York - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Escape from New York Reviews

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½ April 29, 2017
9 out of 10:

Exciting, great sets, and strange, this makes for a fine movie night.
½ April 27, 2017
Young Kurt Russell, classic John Carpenter. For me its a campy classic. By no means a great film, but fun in its dated and over the top way.
April 26, 2017
This film is ok by 80s standards
½ April 20, 2017
John Carpenter is the cult movie director's cult movie director, and Escape From New York is one of his most famous projects. It was Kurt Russell's break away from his clean Disney image, and he goes full Clint Eastwood in the iconic role of Snake Plissken, making the simple act wearing of an eyepatch look like the coolest thing in the world. It's also got a great supporting cast: Ernest Borgnine as a mad cabbie, Lee Van Cleef as a menacing Police Commissioner, Donald Pleasance as a jittering, bizarrely English accented American President. I didn't get much into the story, which is a bit of a jumbled mess, and it didn't leave much of an impact on me when it was over. But it has plenty of atmosphere, cool music, fantastic set designs and tonnes of authenticity. It didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked, but I can easily appreciate its influence.
Super Reviewer
April 19, 2017
Snake Plissken is known as one of the most iconic sci-fi characters in film history, but why? Kurt Russell is a fine actor in just about everything he does, but Escape From New York never gives him anything to do besides hold a gun which he uses maybe once the entire film? It's safe to say I wasn't impressed with this film.

Manhattan is now a security prison for criminals of all variety and after the President crash lands in the middle of the city, Plissken is hired to rescue him. Apparently Plissken is like the boogeyman for these Manhattan criminals, since they all know who he is but didn't seem to know he actually existed or where he's been. The weirdest part, however, is we never get to see him to anything of value. Even in criminals past references, they never mentioned anything specifically which would warrant him a spot to save the President.

It's one thing if the film embraces its silliness and makes all of the dialogue, action, and performances cheesy, but they don't. The tone is never truly set. On one hand, you have Plissken taking on dozens of criminals who look like they are wearing Mad Max cosplay, but then you have the issue of the President's life being on the line. Those are two opposing tones butting heads, and you never get a grasp on the type of film John Carpenter wants to make. I think Carpenter is a masterful director, but Escape From New York felt kind of like a cheap side project for him. Though, I will say Carpenter's original score made for this film is brilliant.

I think a lot of my frustration comes from the fact that this film was made close to 40 years ago, and therefore, there's plenty of dated qualities to it. CGI was young in 1981, and it shows. That and the green screen effects were difficult to watch. Of course, these aren't necessarily the film's fault, but sometimes the reach shouldn't exceed the grasp by that much of a margin. It's not the fault of the film, but I've seen plenty that are better since. Donald Pleasance doesn't get much to do, and neither does anybody in a supporting role. And most of all, I just didn't care for any of the characters or the story they were in.

+Great score

-Why is Plissken so revered?


April 17, 2017
Phenomenal action packed movie starring Kurt Russell. I know I'm late seeing this movie 10 years after it originally was released but I still enjoyed it. The punching sound effects were hysterical because of how cheesy and bad they were but it was a good kind of cheesy.The plot that new york is a full locked down crazy prison is pure hangout genius, it's just cool that one of the most iconic cities in the world is a prison is something you just don't come up with on a daily basis. Now the character everybody wants to talk about, the man of the hour literally, I just saw this 10 minutes ago snake p. I say snake p because I don't know how to spell his God dang last name but I want to, pilesze, see fail. Snakes awesome, he's one big son of gun shooting people in the face and his appearance with that iconic eye patch and I can't forget how he talks , so calm, it feels like he's on drugs, one crazy mother fudger. I know there's a sequel that takes place in los Angeles, that will be interesting.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2017
You know, I've reviewed a few John Carpenter movies on here and they've all been movies that I've enjoyed, with the minor exception of The Ward. Let's be honest here, from 76-88, John Carpenter was a pretty high quality genre filmmaker. From Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog (which I wasn't that high on), The Thing (one of my favorite horror movies of all time), Christine, Big Trouble in Little China (which I greatly enjoyed) and They Live (another movie I really fucking liked). There's many other cult movies that Mr. Carpenter, but those are his most known works. During the 80s, it seemed that Carpenter was working at his highest capacity. This is why I decided to watch this movie last night (I hadn't actually seen it in its entirety) and not to mention the fact that Escape from LA (this movie's sequel) had been available on Netflix, but I didn't wanna watch that without having seen the original, which wasn't available on the aforementioned streaming site until just recently. Now that I watched this, as luck would have it, Escape from LA has been removed. Anyway, having said all of that, and having been a fan of most of the Carpenter movies from this era, I've gotta admit that this falls just a little short of that mark, in my opinion. This movie is obviously very different from The Thing, They Live and Big Trouble in Little China, but I enjoyed all of those movies more than this one. Though this movie has more in common than with the last two than it does with the first one. That's not to say I didn't enjoy this movie's dystopian depiction of New York City being turned into a maximum security prison where all of the criminals are sent. Things are further complicated when a terrorist group, who hijacked Air Force One, causes the President to use an escape pod that lands in NYC. He is then taken hostage by the prisoners in NYC for, you guessed it, their freedom. A former war hero turned criminal Snake Plissken is asked to retrieve the president with the promise that he will receive a full pardon if he does so. He is injected with something that will cause his arteries to explode if he is not able to complete the mission within the allotted time. Snake Plissken, as a character, has very little that is actually compelling. He's a cool character, for sure, the entire look and attitude of the guy has pretty much influenced Metal Gear Solid, right down to the name of the lead character (Snake) and the eye patch. He's just a macho badass who doesn't take any shit from absolutely nobody. That's all you need to know about him and, you know what, that's absolutely fine in this movie. But, sadly, the fact of the matter is that time simply hasn't been as kind to this movie as, say, They Live and Big Trouble in Little China has. Not to mention The Thing, which is still phenomenal to this day. They Live still holds up because its themes of the ruling class trying to keep those "below" them under control through the use of subliminal messages in mass media is still relevant in this day and age. Big Trouble holds up because it pokes fun at American hubris with a completely ineffectual and useless lead hero. This movie, on the other hand, doesn't really have that going for it. It's just a near future movie as so many others from that era. It's an entertaining movie, even to this day, for sure, but it just doesn't age as well as some of the others. 1981 was also the year when The Road Warrior (or Mad Max 2) was released and, while they are very different (even though both feature dystopian worlds. Both also feature men of few words as their lead characters. They let their actions do their talking. But The Road Warrior is far and ahead the more impressive film in terms of action choreography, which was ahead of its time in terms of the crazy shit that they did. It's almost impossible, when doing a retrospective look at the year of 1981 in films, to not compare the two. One held up better than the other, that's for sure. But that's neither here nor there. I digress, the problem I have with this movie is that, for the first 40 minutes, nothing actually really happens. They take a long ass time setting up Snake's arrival to NYC and, even then, it's a few minutes until the film really gets going. And when it does get going, it's not like it hits the ground running either, there's still some slow moments. Again, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie, but there's no denying that the flaws are readily apparent. The acting is good here, for sure, Kurt Russell is good as the badass, silent type. Harry Dean Stanton is always great. Even Isaac Hayes, while not getting a lot of screen time, is pretty good. There's this one problematic scene that feels so unnecessarily racist, though. When Snake makes his way back to the top of the World Trade Center, where his glider is then thrown off to the ground, Harry Dean Stanton's character (who has the president) then proceeds to say 'goddamn redskins, they're savages'. Jesus fucking christ. This film takes place in a NYC, that has been turned into a MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON. The city is ruled by violent gangs who have the equivalent of Roman fights in the colosseum inside of a wrestling ring. Yet the Native Indians are the savages because they pushed off the glider off the top of the WTC? Come the fuck on with that bullshit. It'd be horrifyingly racist under normal circumstances, if there weren't violent gangs roaming about. But it's made even worse when you look at the content of the film and realize that everyone in this fucking place is violent and out to kill our lead characters. I'm not gonna let that affect what I thought of the film, I still think it hasn't aged well, but I just had to point out that bullshit line. The action is fine, just a lot of punching and shooting. It's not The Road Warrior, that's for sure, but it's not bad. The look of the film is great, though, it captures that dystopian feel perfectly. They do a great job at building the world these characters inhabit. I can't say that this is John Carpenter's best film, and I don't think many people would say that, but it's still an enjoyable dystopian action film, even if I would say that time hasn't been super kind. I'd still give it a recommendation, particularly if you're a Carpenter fan.
April 14, 2017
Admittedly, I watched this directly after watching Big Trouble in Little China for the first time. I just say EFNY did not give me satisfaction. I felt if was a bit of a drag. Scenes were long, scarce on the action. The music was ok, but I didn't have a good time watching this. Maybe I was tired. No excuse.
½ April 8, 2017
A great concept and great lead in Kurt Russell help elevate the movie to an above average action movie.
April 3, 2017
Too campy to take seriously, but too stern to have any fun with, "Escape From New York" was probably cool for its time, but today comes off as a piece of 80s nostalgia that's as washed up and outdated as Reaganomics.
½ March 26, 2017
The central hub of the world economy has been turned into a massive prison island, what's not to love?
March 20, 2017
Impressive cast, warped epic vision and great simple action story
March 6, 2017
"Escape From New York" has a very interesting premise and, despite the predictably outdated 'futurism', the intentions are appreciated. It looks like the budget restricted what Carpenter could show on screen, and that's a shame as it deprives us of certain needed climaxes. The weight that the sketchy characters cannot carry is arguably seen through by the good action and the presence of Kurt Russell and Lee Van Cleef, securing this film as an above-par thriller but with some potential wasted.
January 15, 2017
One of John Carpenter's best films!
December 31, 2016
Old school JC! Love his stuff.
½ December 13, 2016
Dunno I wasn't really drawn to it
November 3, 2016
The thing is about Escape from New York, it's really hard to tell just how seriously it takes itself. I had the same thing with another John Carpenter film They Live which is a lot more intelligent than Escape From New York but that doesn't mean that Escape From New York doesn't have promise.

The plot of Escape From New York is that in the future the entire area of Manhattan is now a walled off prison, from which you can go in, but not out again, Berlin Wall style. The country is at an ambiguous war with maybe China and Russia and, basically, everything's gone to shit. When the president, on his way to a summit with important documents that could stop the war and put his country on the road to recovery, crash lands Air Force One inside the wall, ex-war hero turned criminal Bob 'Snake' Pliskin is strong armed into to going in and getting him. It's actually a credit to the film that that's all handled without feeling like information overload.

The key to just how tongue in cheek this film is lies I think in Kurt Russel's performance as Snake. We know he can be a bad ass in John Carpenter films, (The Thing), we know he can parody his bad ass image to great effect in John Carpenter films, (Big Trouble in Little China), so where does this performance lie? Maybe it would help if I'd seen Big Trouble In Little China, but the whole aesthetic of this film is one that knows it's a b-movie and embraces that. Now that's lightly different from an intentional b-movie, (Sharknado), which inevitably turn out to be crap, or a send up or parody of b-movies, (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), the secret is that it really has this self awareness that makes it go with a swing. Kurt Russel is actually I think having a lot of fun with this character, and he's a lot of fun to watch.

Watching this film the people I was watching it with kept saying things like 'it's knock off Mad Max', 'every 80s action cliche rolled into one' which I think are both slightly unfair. The Mad Max comment I may come back to but I would to sit on more to form an eloquent argument against it, mainly I think because Mad Max is going for slightly different notes than this film. The comment about 80s action movies, this film came out in 1981, and even if it was what my friend said, would that be such a bad film, you could look at it as a post modern send up of 80s movies, which I believe we've established anyway it isn't.

I think that even with this in mind, the film wouldn't work if it wasn't for the outstanding production design. It's all well and good poking fun at yourself in a post modern fashion, but if you've clearly put no effort in then what's the point? I can see where the comment about Mad Max came from, with the costume design echoing it, but I think that Mad Max's costumes reflect a desert wasteland where as Escape From New York represents something resembling Arkham, (because that's really what Arkham is let's be honest). The production design is also fantastic and really compensates for some of the more shoddy effects, the work is which the film inahbits is really beautifully realised.

In the end I am a bit uncomfortable with the fact that the film may be forgiving it's own schlocky quality by claiming post-modernism or homage in the way of someone like Eli Roth, (Hostel, The Green Inferno), however this film has something Roth's films don't; fun, and a real sense of humour and quality and ambition to the film making. It's a really fun, if occasionally campy, and occasionally with quite terribly plane effects, b movie.
October 17, 2016
John Carpenter's masterpiece delivers the decades ultimate anti-hero in Snake Plissken. The cast assembled is perfect. Russell is the balls. Van Cleef is even cooler than ever sporting a sleeper, Donald Pleasence as the President and Isaac Hayes as the Duke, Harry Dean Stanton as Brain and a serious twitch off Adrienne Barbeau. As usual Carpenter's music turns things up a notch and the ending is the ultimate fuck you to the powers that be. Magnificent.
½ September 20, 2016
Released in 1981, sat in 1997. The US President crashes by plane into a building in New York and he is soon captured by mobsters who controll the area. Convict Snake Plissken is taken out of his cell to rescue him, naturally attached to some advice that will kill him after 24 hours if he does not recieve some counter-treatment.

I've seen quite a few Carpenter-flicks and this is a pretty good one. It got the prefect atmosphere - the set was actually kept and re-painted for "Bladerunner". The pace is great so the 90+ minutes fly fast.

Cool badguys, badder goodguys and some neat lines, a given cult classic. Kurt Russell's character, Snake is a huge inspiration for "Solid Snake" - the hero from the game series "Metal Gear". That's very cool as it's one of the pretty few games I've played and completed in my life and my favorite spygame-character. It's fun to see Isaac Hayes as "The Duke". It's fun to see Lee Van Cleef. If not fun, Adrienne Barbeau's cleavage is often seen and a repeated success factor.

6.5 out of 10 modded uzi's.
½ September 9, 2016
The premise for this movie is a great idea. However, although the movie had a great set up, it just failed to deliver in the end. It really lacked the gunfights and explosions I was hoping for. Kurt Russell was a real badass though, except for those spandex pants. I look forward to the remake, if it goes through.
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