So atrocious is the reputation of L.A. that most of the unfortunates choose the proffered option of electrocution in the mainland deportation center over life in the dreaded island city.
"Escape From L.A." is a sure shot to win the title of "Worst Picture of the Year." This is the real thing: a big movie with name players, a major marketing campaign, and wide distribution to all the innocents making their way to the multiplex only to have their evening blown.
We should have known. The opening credits announce the probability that some buddies got together to indulge themselves after reaching into their deep pockets. This awful movie moment is an in-joke among cronies, a calculated insult to the audience, a heavy-handed, witless exercise in sloth and indolence.
The plot? A Christian right moralist bigot (Cliff Robertson) has a lifetime stranglehold on the U.S. presidency, something he managed after a 9.8 earthquake turned Los Angeles into an island in the year 2000. The island city is now the final destination for mainland violators of the presidential moral code. America is now a Christian nation full of leaders who do not practice what they preach.
So atrocious is the reputation of L.A. that most of the unfortunates choose the proffered option of electrocution in the mainland deportation center over life in the dreaded island city. The audience is not so lucky.
The president's daughter Utopia (A.J. Langer) has stolen the black box that can shut down the electronic world in a keystroke. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), heroic veteran of Vietnam and "Escape from New York" (1981), is summoned to retrieve it.
Not one member of the terrible cast has the presence to hold the screen for a second. Kurt Russell, his fleshy face creased by a snarl, strides through this mess with a practiced mannerism: he strides, pauses, turns around and leers--John Wayne without the grace, looks, voice, or style to enliven a walk to the grocery store.
As if we are dying to know what happened to our beloved easy rider, a middle-aged Peter Fonda shows up, still clinging to the good old days. He's the gun on the wall in Act I that will be used in Act III--an aging surfer waiting to ride the big wave through the middle of downtown L.A. By then, this looks like a great idea, so sick are we of the tent city dotted with the small bonfires of this island prison.
L.A. as a landscape of derelicts and criminals awash in nihilism may be an exciting thought, but it fizzles instantly in the hands of a thoroughly inept group of writers and actors. All this ugliness unfolds to a single rhythmic beat and the steady fire of computerized machine guns. It is a movie of fireballs, gas tanks, filth, and muck made before the special effects guys learned how to do it right.
Still looking for a bright side to the movie experience, one departing member of the audience said to another, "Let's talk about redeeming features." "None," he replied, "there are none." Right.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 495
Studio : Paramount
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h41m
Copyright (c) Illusion
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