Back during 1996, the Year that gave us Michael Bay’s The Rock and Independence Day, there was this one Movie that I had the biggest anticipation for, and that was the sequel to one of my favorite beloved films, ever!
Within August of that year, John Carpenter, Kurt Russell had finally continued the adventures of one of cinema’s most iconic Anti-Heroes back to the silver screen after being stuck in development hell for quite some time.
The premise of (John Carpenter’s) Escape from LA is all too familiar for those who have watched its venerable Predecessor-Escape from New York thanks in part, to the plot and scenarios.
However, what is original, is the political landscape within the United States which now implement and carry out restrictions regarding the virtues of liberty and, freedom. In the fictional year of 2013, Individuals who are perceived a “threat” to the new Moral America are subjected to expulsion or granted the option to repent via electrocution. with the rest of the social outcasts to Los Angeles or what’s left of it! Y’see after this huge earthquake in Los Angeles appeared, ( That was foreseen by a religious zealot candidate, now President for Life) the “City of Sin” was decimated and what remains, is now some Penal colony island where those convicted of “Moral crimes” (Tobacco, alcoholic beverages, recreational drugs, red meat, firearms, profanity, atheism, freedom of religion and extra-marital sex,) will lose their citizenship and then immediately dispatched to fend for themselves.
Sounds far-fetched? Well, I hate to burst your comfortable complacent bubble, but now that the ill-tempered Donald J. Trump is President elect, virtually anything is possible! LOL Trump has not only threatened to build a wall, but he is capable of working within the best interests of Christian Fundamentals and that would mean taking away some freedoms we take for granted and of course, Women’s’ reproductive rights.
Those who don’t fall in line, may be subjected to face repercussions especially when you factor in Trump’s alleged appointees-Chris Christine, Rudolph Giuliani and *Winces* Newt Gingrich, there’s bound to be some striking parallels since EFLA’s biggest takeaway was lampooning the Ultra Conservative political spectrum and it worked to a fault with the late Christopher Robinson portrayal as the President for Life.
Escape from LA borrows elements and themes of Cold War but with a modicum take of The Bay of Pigs invasion. As with EFNY, America is at war as always but what else that has been retained from the first film, is the United States Police Force and it seem more comparable to the “Racist Police State” (Quoted from EFNY.) that exists in today’s America.
The USPS and the Prez, serves as Plissken’s “thorn in the ass” when Snake is once again, coerced into infiltrating the Prison to retrieve a doomsday device known as The Sword of Damocles-a component that acts as a trigger beacon for EMP equipped satellites. (Ya can’t have an action film without a McGuffin.)
Followed by a kill order-assassinate the President’s Daughter-Utopia, who has stolen said device and fled to LA to join her terrorist boyfriend-Cuero Jones. Jones plan is to leave the Island and infiltrate the United States with the help of third world nations. The Sword of Damocles is the President’s “trump card”. See what I just did there?
Are you still with me? It gets even better!
In another great example of “Art imitating life” is attributed to Plissken’s ‘escape’ from The Surgeon General of Beverly Hills (who was exceptionally portrayed by “Hail to the King” himself, Bruce Campbell.) Snake has a moment with Talsima, a Beautiful detainee who was dropped into the hell pit because of her Islamic beliefs.
It’s very foreshadowing when you exchange the racial identity of this character, from Middle Eastern to say “Mexican”? And we all know how well Islamic Americans are being portrayed as these days so one doesn’t happen to be ultra-perspective to see through Carpy’s foresight.
There’s even an unintentional nod to climate change and the harsh weather results from thereof.
On a side note, I can imagine that crackpot, Ben Carson being appointed by Trump as the Surgeon General. He’s just as demented as his fictional counterpart, but as with Campbell’s character, he has his share of cult-like followers! *AHEM*
Another interesting parallel goes to a character later seen in the movie-HerShe (Get it?) played by the Goddess of Blaxploitation-Pam Grier in which her role is that of a former protégé of Plissken, now a Transsexual who lemme guess…. got sent to the LA Maximum Security prison for “gender-swap”? Probably more of a reason than his previous ego “Carjack Malone” past criminal activities.
“Some people think you’re already dead, Snake. Some say you never will be. Though you may have survived Cleveland. You may have escaped from New York. But this is L.A., vato. And you’re about to find out that this fucking city can kill anybody”!
Until now, I took umbrage with the portrayal of Grier’s opportunity being wasted via playing a She-male than a strong kick ass Sista, like in her previous films; Coffy and Foxy Brown. Now it all seems clear to me. With the constant laws preventing Transsexuals from using gender related bathrooms, there is that irony. The finale although very anti-climactic, was well thought out and in many ways, justifiable.
Snake is aware that no matter who wins, we all lose. (An insightful metaphor when describing the two candidates of this year’s election.) Thus, takes matters within his own hands via activating the Electro Magnetic Pulse weapon that resets the world back to the “Stone Age”. A great “Bait-and-switch” akin to the EFNY ending.Despite being a wasted opportunity and shitty sequel thanks to laughable CGI effects, dumb scenarios (I’m looking at YOU, “Surfing, Shot clock Snake”!!) inappropriate music cues and of course, the toned down soundtrack that sounds as if it was inspired from the Batman animated series…Oh, wait! (Composer Shirley Walker) However, there is enough enjoyment to certify it as one of my guilty pleasure films. It’s neither the movie we asked for or deserve but it serves its purpose as social political commentary more so than ever.
“I shut down the third world, you win they lose. I shut down America, they win, you lose. The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
What one can take away from this much-lauded sequel is somewhat of a cautionary tale especially now when we are faced with the potential threat of Right wing pundits impeding on the rights and privileges that American citizens often take for granted.
Now I know what most if you are thinking; “But Stalks, the notion of these scenarios from EFLA is not only far-fetched, but preposterous! It just simply cannot happen”!
Well, remember that scene in Escape from New York when some radical hijacked Air Force One and crashed it into a building? Or let’s talk rising crime rates and how about mass incarceration population is equivalent to the size of a state. Ayep!
“Evidently, I don’t need to know, so fuck you. I’m going to Hollywood.
Escape from LA is now available on Netflix