Escape from L.A. (1996)
written by John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Kurt Russell
directed by John Carpenter
I remember the moment I laid eyes on the teaser poster to Escape from L.A., the sequel to 1981’s cult favorite Escape from New York. In it, antihero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) sat all badass on a motorcycle while L.A. burned in the background. The slogan above him read SNAKE IS BACK. And at the bottom, PLAN YOUR ESCAPE. All I could think of was,“Fuck, yeah.”
As a longtime fan of director John Carpenter, I had very high hopes for Escape from L.A. Sadly, I was wrong. This is quite possibly one of the worst films in Carpenter’s filmography, redeemed only by Russell’s obvious relish for the character. Although an attempt has been made to keep the original’s tongue-in-cheek pleasures, this sequel misses the mark completely, shifting tone – from satire to camp to substandard actioner – more often than Snake can squint. The result is a lazy mess with cheesy special effects and groan-inducing scenes. By the time Snake gets on a surfboard and rides the worst CG wave in history, you’ll wish he’d never escaped New York at all.
Carlos I. Cuevas