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Escape from New York

Where to Watch Escape from New York

R
1981

Escape from New York is a 1981 dystopian sci-fi action film directed by the seminal genre film director John Carpenter. The film stars Kurt Russell, who collaborated with Carpenter throughout the ‘80s in numerous films, establishing him as an essential character actor of the era.

The film is set in a darker and gloomier version of 1997. In this alternate reality, crime rates in the United States have surged by 400% necessitating extreme measures. As a result, the island of Manhattan in New York City has been converted into a massive federal prison, a city within a city, where hardcore criminals are deported and then left to fend for themselves.

Kurt Russell stars as Snake Plissken, a grizzled and cynical antihero. He is a decorated Special Forces soldier who turned into a convict, with a finely honed survival instinct that makes him the perfect candidate for an almost impossible mission. Snake is injected with a tiny explosive that will detonate in less than 24 hours unless the mission is completed successfully.

The antagonist and primary figure of authority in the film is Hauk, a stern and no-nonsense police commissioner played by Lee Van Cleef, marking his transition from his typical roles in Westerns to modern interpretations of lawmen. The tension between Snake and Hauk forms the central dynamic of the film.

A frightening twist throws Manhattan and its prisoner inhabitants into chaos when the President of the United States, aboard Air Force One, crashes onto the island after a terrorist attack. He falls into the hands of the ruthless prison gangs, setting the stage for the central conflict of the film. In response, the government recruits a reluctant Snake Plissken to infiltrate Manhattan island, rescue the President and retrieve the important item he was carrying.

In his hazardous journey through the chaotic streets of New York, Snake encounters a range of interesting characters, each more eccentric than the last, played by a lively and colorful supporting cast. Ernest Borgnine stars as the cheery Cabby, a taxi driver who navigates New York's chaotic landscape with affable ease.

Carpenter's New York is a dynamic and hostile environment, filled with various gang territories and abandoned buildings, the urban decay emphasized by the noir gloomy shadows and artificial lights. This gives the movie a unique aesthetic that blurs the line between post-apocalyptic and neo-noir while also predating the cyberpunk genre.

The film is striking for its stunning and atmospheric cinematography, creating a gritty, decaying dystopia that feels both frighteningly believable and surreal. The desolate streets of Manhattan, swarming with anti-social elements in the shadows, lend an unsettling ambiance that pervades the film all along.

Escape from New York is elevated by its pulse-pounding score. Composed by Carpenter himself, the signature synthesizer music adds another layer of urgency and bleakness to the movie, a trendsetter in its time and a notable influence for many synthesizer-based scores and soundtracks that followed.

The movie is intense, filled with fierce action scenes, thrilling moments, and a few ironic strains of humor. Russell as Snake Plissken exudes a rough charm and rugged charisma, delivering one-liners and hard action in equal measure. The character of Snake Plissken, with his eye patch and gruff exterior, became an instant icon and one of Russell's most enduring roles.

In the annals of science fiction and action cinema, Escape from New York occupies a unique place. It's a fast-paced, bizarrely fascinating film that combines elements of dystopia, noir, and bristling action. It introduced one of Kurt Russell's most remarkable characters and resonated enough with audiences to warrant a sequel, and even after decades of its release, the film hasn't lost its cult allure. The setting, the captivating music, and the enduring character of Snake Plissken combine to form a cornerstone in John Carpenter’s filmmaking oeuvre and a must-watch for fans of gritty and intelligent science fiction.

Escape from New York is a Science Fiction, Action movie released in 1981. It has a runtime of 99 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.1. It also holds a MetaScore of 76.

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Where can I stream Escape from New York movie online? Escape from New York is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Plex, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Escape from New York for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.1/10
76/100
Director
John Carpenter
Stars
Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Season Hubley, Tom Atkins
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