Escape From L.A. (1996) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

John Carpenter’s sequel to his seminal 1981 film, a decade-and-a half in the making, is essentially a remake with upgraded special effects and a updated setting. Switching the action from the East to the West Coast, during an era when L.A. had an apocalyptic vibe, proves to be a good creative decision. Carpenter and star/co-writer Kurt Russell have gone for broke and included an assortment of off-beat characters and outrageous situations. Escape From L.A. was buried at the box-office and deserves to be re-discovered by audiences, today.

A cataclysmic temblor strikes Los Angeles, turning it into an island. The president (Cliff Robertson) views the quake as a sign from above, expels Los Angeles from the country and makes it a penal colony for those found guilty of moral crimes. When his daughter (A.J.Langer), part of a resistance movement, steals the control unit for a doomsday weapon, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) again gets tapped to save the day.

Escape From L.A. is an efficient action thriller with a touch of cynical humor. Los Angeles as envisioned by the director and his crew of technicians is a hellish, over-populated, and volatile city run by a warlord, but always under threat of annihilation from a massive earthquake. These elements make for a great follow-up film. While the special effects range from impressive to cheap, the action never wavers and the story developments, slightly tweaked from the original, are enough to captivate and entertain for 100 minutes.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Cliff Robertson

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