Sporting a black eye-patch and a mutinous sneer, anti-hero Snake Plissken (Russell) prepares to invade the Manhattan of 1997, sealed off as a self-regulating maximum security prison following a 400% rise in the crime rate, and ruled over by a black drug-dealing Prospero (Hayes) attended by his punk Ariel. Victim of a Catch-22 situation and primed to self-destruct if he fails, Snake's task is to rescue the hijacked US president (Pleasence) from this ominous underworld; and for about half the film, Carpenter's narrative economy and explosive visual style (incorporating some marvellous model work of the new Manhattan skyline) promise wonders. The trouble is that his characters neither develop nor interact dynamically, so the plot gradually winds down into predictable though highly enoyable histrionics.
Cast and crew
John Carpenter, Nick Castle
Kurt Russell Lee Van Cleef Ernest Borgnine Donald Pleasence Isaac Hayes Season Hubley Tom Atkins Harry Dean Stanton Adrienne Barbeau