Escape from L.A. (R)
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This is the sequel to Escape from New York. It came out in 1996, fifteen years after the original. (I watched it in 2017, five years after I first watched the original.) I was aware that it wasn't as well received as the original, so I was curious to see whether I'd like it more, less, or about the same as the original. But I wasn't going to reread my review of the original until after I'd watched this, so that my rating wouldn't be influenced by my rating of the original. I decided to give this two smileys, and then when I did reread the original review, I was gratified to see it also got two smileys. Because honestly, I didn't see much difference between the two films. I kind of feel like the only justifiable criticism of this movie would be that it was too much like the original. And if anyone says that any aspect of it is appreciably inferior to the original, then... I dunno. Just, fuck them, I guess. I do find it kind of strange to feel strongly that there's no basis to like or dislike one movie more than the other, considering my feelings about both movies are not particularly strong. But really, it's not about the movies themselves, it's about people's perceptions of the movies. And I think they're both entertaining in the exact same ways. You know, neither movie is great, and neither movie is bad. They are the same. Full stop.
So... it begins with some narration about a guy who ran for President in 1998... no, wait, um... narration about the state of Los Angeles in 1998. And a guy who ran for President, and predicted an earthquake would separate L.A. from mainland USA. I guess he was running in 2000, but it's weird that the movie specifically mentioned 1998, then specifically mentioned this guy's prediction but not when he was running for office, then specifically mentioned the earthquake happening in 2000. Then... he becomes President, with a lifetime term of office. I have zero idea why that change was made, but whatever. Then the movie jumps to 2013. The island of Los Angeles is now not a part of the U.S., but American citizens can be deprived of their citizenship and deported there, for "moral crimes." (I feel like if it's not part of the U.S., the U.S. should have no jurisdiction over the island. I also feel like a lot of the people who get deported there are probably actually better people than the law-abiding U.S. citizens, so it's weird that it's depicted as such a terrible, crime-ridden place. But whatever.)
Anyway, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), the anti-hero of the first movie, is captured and supposed to be deported to L.A., but he's given a deal much like the one from the first movie. This time, the President's daughter, Utopia (A.J. Langer), had stolen a controller for a satellite system that could use electromagnetic pulses to disable any (or all) technology in the world. She had spent time in a virtual reality world, where she met Cuervo Jones, the leader of a gang in L.A. I suppose maybe you could say he brainwashed her into doing what she did (that's what Wikipedia says), but personally I prefer to believe she really was quite justifiably opposed to the way her father was running the country, and stole the device of her own free will. However, when she escaped to L.A. and met Cuervo for real, she discovered he was no better (and perhaps even worse) than her father. Either way, Snake's job isn't to get her back, it's just to get the device back. Of course, he wouldn't do that, except that he had been injected with a virus that would supposedly kill him within like ten hours, and the only way to get the antidote is to do the job.
Beyond that, I don't know what to tell you. Except to mention some of the actors in the movie who were familiar to me. There's a military commander named Malloy, played by Stacy Keach. And he has a subordinate played by Michelle Forbes. There's a guy named Eddie (Steve Buscemi), who Snake meets in L.A., and whose loyalties remain very suspect. There's a woman named Taslima, who is definitely on Snake's side. She's played by Valeria Golino, a name which is familiar to me, but none of her credits on IMDb are things I remember her from, so I dunno. Also there's a gang leader named Hershe (Pam Grier, from Foxy Brown), who used to be Cuervo's partner, but is now an enemy, who helps Snake. Also Bruce Campbell had a minor role, though I didn't recognize him at all. And... probably some people who would be more familiar to others than they were to me. And... hmmm. So like, I definitely don't want to say how the movie ends, but it didn't really surprise me. And I'm glad, because I liked how it ended. Other than that... I could just say the movie is perhaps a bit funnier than the original, but I'd say they're equally redonkulous, even if the original was more of an east coast flavor of redonkulous and the sequel was west coast redonk. Anyway, I'm glad to have finally seen the movie, and now I never need to worry about it again.