From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Movie Retrospectives: One Man Armies
Escape From New York

Name: Snake Pliskin (Kurt Russell), a former Army Special Forces member, now afoul of the law.

Mission: In the distant future (at the time of filming, this meant 1997), the president has crashed in Air Force One on the island of Manhattan. This is a problem, since in 1988, Manhattan was turned into the largest prison in the world. The island is completely fenced in to hold the lowest of the low on the criminal ladder. Pliskin is the only man who might be able to get in, get the President, and get out.

Allied forces: Brain (Harry Dean Stanton), Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine), and Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau, and her breasts). These three refugees have carved out a niche for survival on the inside of New York Penitentiary.

Enemy combatants: The Duke of New York (the perpetually cool Isaac Hayes), the baddest power inside New York; Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef), warden of the prison. He may seem like he's on Snake's side, but he works only for himself.

Success of mission: Snake takes down eight various street freaks on the inside, and injures at least half a dozen more. His cohorts knock off another 4-6. The President is saved, but is the rest of the world?

Other notable activity: This is one of the ultimate guy movies. From Pliskin's gravelly tough guy voice (and constantly being asked "Weren't you dead?"), to Hayes uber bad ass Duke, to Van Cleef's hardass warden (and let's not forget Barbeau's cleavage), this movie exudes machismo from every pore. Other guy movies are bloodier, or have more action. But this one just corners the market on guy "cool". It's so cool, it doesn't even have to kill everyone, because it knows how cool it is. Donald Plesance is a weasely, conniving, political animal as the President. I'd still vote for him over W. in a heartbeat.

Summation of activity: Not a great movie if you're looking for masterful acting performances, but still a very fun ride, that is entertaining. There's a bit of a chill I got early on, as Snake lands a glider on the top of one of the World Trade Center towers. I would imagine everyone gets some kind of feeling seeing them in movies made pre-9/11, and I wonder if I will ever get past that feeling. All things being equal, it's still a good guy movie, made for late night watching, with pizza, beer, maybe some poker. You can cheer the cool moments and tune out the rest.

Tomorrow: John Rambo rampages in First Blood.