John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. (1996)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

It's 16 years after Snake Plissken's rescue of the President in New York. Now, a different President is in power and declares the United States to be a land of moral superiority: no smoking, no red meat, no freedom of religion and no unapproved marriages. A massive earthquake has hit Los Angeles, leaving it in ruins and completely surrounded by water. From this new island hell rises an army of discontent, led by brutal South American revolutionary Cuervo Jones. L.A. has become an anarchist state. The President deports all immoral (and therefore criminal) citizens of the U.S to the City of Angels. However, his own daughter Utopia joins forces with Cuervo, taking with her the key to a doomsday device that could send mankind back to the dark ages. Once again, Snake is recruited by the President's men to complete an impossible task: penetrate the Sodom that is L.A., retrieve the device, and eliminate Utopia. Infected by a fatal virus, his clock is ticking as enemy forces threaten America's borders.
R (for violence and some language)
Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures

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Kurt Russell
as Snake Plissken
Stacy Keach
as Malloy
Steve Buscemi
as Map to the Stars Eddie
Peter Fonda
as Pipeline
Georges Corraface
as Cuervo Jones
Cliff Robertson
as President
Bruce Campbell
as Surgeon General of Beverly Hills
Valeria Golino
as Taslima
Pam Grier
as Hershe
AJ Langer
as Utopia
Jeff Imada
as Saigon Shadow
Ina Romero
as Blonde Hooker
Peter Jason
as Duty Sergeant
Jordan Baker
as Police Anchor
Caroleen Feeney
as Woman on Freeway
Paul Bartel
as Congressman
Tom McNulty
as Com Officer
Breckin Meyer
as Surfer
Robert Carradine
as Skinhead
Shelly Desai
as Cloaked Figure
Leland Orser
as Test Tube
Kathleen Blanchard
as Female Narrator
William Luduena
as Mescalito
Gabriel Castillo
as Mescalito
William Pena
as Jacket Mescalito
David Perrone
as U.S. Cleric Justice
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.

Critic Reviews for John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (14)

Enjoyable in a playful way

Full Review… | October 24, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

The special effects vary from OK to lame to very lame.

July 5, 2002
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Dark, percussive and perversely fun.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Escape from L.A. is too preposterous to be a good film. But in keeping with its title, it does provide a couple of hours of entertaining escapism.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Buscemi, Fonda, Robertson, Grier and many others get to make vivid impressions, but of course it's Russell who must carry this swiftly paced picture. As rugged as ever and attractively weathered, he does so with ease.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A poetic pulp movie made with joy.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.


So the first film was set in the distant future of 1997. In this sequel a massive earthquake hits LA and practically wipes it out in the distant future of the year 2000. And now in the present day of the year 2013 Snake Plissken is brought back to once again rescue the USA. I just find it amusing how these now old films are out of date with their distant future dates. Also on a personal note it sorta affects the films impact for me, dunno why, I guess it doesn't hold the same futuristic feel obviously. Snake is back! he's still bad, he's all in black and grunts more than ever (did he really need that heavy full length trench coat?! oh was for the coolness factor wasn't it). Was this specific adventure required? no not really, the plot is exactly the same as the first film, swap a President for a black box. I think the problem here was everyone wanted to see more from Snake and we all knew damn well it had to go down the same route really. I mean sure we could see any kind of action thriller with Snake but it had to have that same kind of lingering dread, the same countdown threat for Snake to feed off. In that sense the film works well and does offer another nice apocalyptic atmosphere. Yet despite Snakes awesomeness we all know how badly this film turned out. I think the main issue was the fact the film simply plods along from one set piece to another like a videogame, accept the plot in between is very thin. It also comes across very obviously that Carpenter wanted to include as many extreme sports/situations for Snake as possible with no real reason for them, just to boost the coolness levels. We see Snake surfing on a tidal wave!, hang gliding whilst using a sub machine gun, riding a motorbike (although admittedly that was uber cool), playing basketball like a pro etc...Like many sequels/reboots/remakes Carpenter makes the classic mistake of going totally totally overboard with everything when he didn't need to. The first film didn't have all these extravagant set pieces, it was just Snake being the epitome of a badass in that epic Clint Eastwood/man with no name kind of way. From the very beginning the film just follows the first film too closely. Plus the initial narration makes little sense, the President seems to know about the pending quake yet no one else does? no one does anything? It conveniently leaves LA as an the President said it would? wut? how did he know?? Why didn't they just create their own area for the unwanted instead of waiting for a quake which may or may not do what they were waiting for?...or so it seemed. The other main poke in the eye was the absolutely horrific CGI and bluescreen work all the way through the film. I saw the film when it was first released in the cinema and I do recall thinking even back then it looked a bit hokey, of course at the time it was fine but looking back now its dreadful! The sequences of CGI look amateurish at best, the underwater sub sequence is bordering on the kind of B-movie trashy CGI you'd expect from The Asylum...if not worse. Lets not talk about that hideous Universal Studios homage with the 'Jaws' appearance. Coupled with that you then have some awful bluescreen work throughout which just sticks out like a big red sore thumb. The casting in the film is good, again don't get me wrong not everything was bad, but it just wasn't utilised correctly. Did we need government men being all gruff like Van Cleef from the first film? Bruce Campbell and his plastic surgery nightmares were a good touch but all too brief and again highly campy, Pam Grier is in the dictionary under cult movie star but her role here is just plain lame and not fully realised, Fonda's character is pointless and the main bad guy Cuervo was like an old campy Bond he has been clearly modelled after Guevara. It really is such a shame as everyone wanted more Plissken badassery and this film was like a bit of an insult really. There are some nice touches dotted around don't get me wrong, Snake on the bike was cool, seeing an old Snake was cool, the brief showdown with Bangkok rules was nice errr...I'm struggling. Carpenter pretty much rehashed everything from the first film but made it more campy, the grittiness was gone and replaced with lame characters from a panto. Name of the game...campy. Its a strange mix really, a blend of top ice cool imagery and quips alongside watered down camp hijinx, with a small small smattering of blood. The film seems to be almost parodying the genre yet at the same time going along with it and trying to be semi serious. Myself I do like it to a degree mainly because of Snake but I just wish there was another chance to make up for this damp entry. The film does end with a good setup for 'Escape the Earth' or maybe how about some Snake Chronicles? we need to see Snake once more before its too late (and no new casting with reboots thank you very much).

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Sequel to John Carpenter's action classic, Escape from New York is a mediocre picture that recycles old ideas, except now, you've guessed it, the setting is in L.A. This was a completely unnecessary sequel that failed t9o really grab your attention, and it's basically the exact same film, except they've changed a few things around so that it looks like it's something new and exciting. This is disappointing, and it lacks anything really engaging and it's not worth your time, as it is just a pointless sequel that doesn't do anything with its concept. There might have been a great film here, but the fact is, is that it uses old ideas, and it becomes predictable in a way that just doesn't make it interesting. Not only that, but the material is laughable and there are scenes which are plainly ridiculous and stupid. Fans of the original, should definitely not give this one a shot because you're not missing much. This is a bland film with nothing new to offer, and it's lacking in any ideas and good entertainment value. Escape From L.A is pointless, and it's a waste of what could have been a good film, if there could have been a different angle on the story established in the first one. Maybe an expansion of the events of the first film fearing Snake would have been interesting. But the filmmakers went the same route, and simply changed the setting and tried to make it seem less dark and atmospheric, unlike the first film which was a fine action film that blended Science Fiction and action very well into one film. With Escape From L.A, John Carpenter has easily made one of the worst films of his career. I think that this had the potential of being a superb film; instead it misses the mark on so many levels.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Snake Is Back. Good movie! Escape From L.A is an underrated classic that gets better with repeating viewings and is a film that deserves more respect and is one of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell's best films. Highly Recommended. The year is 2013 and Snake Plissken is back but this time it's L.A., which through the agency of earthquakes has become an island of the damned. But something has gone wrong in this new moral order, because the President's daughter has absconded to L.A. with a detonation device, and Snake is commandeered to retrieve it. But just below the surface there is a coiled Snake ready to strike.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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