SassyFlix | Escape from New York

Escape from New York

  • R
  • 1981-05-23
  • 01:39:00
7/ 10
132235 votes

In a dystopian 1988, amidst total war against China and the Soviet Union, the United States government has turned Manhattan into a giant maximum-security prison to deal with a 400% increase in crime. A 50-foot (15 m) wall surrounds the island, bridges have been mined, rivers are patrolled by helicopters, and all prisoners are sentenced to life terms.

In 1997, while flying the President of the United States John Harker to a peace summit in Hartford, Connecticut, Air Force One is hijacked by a guerilla fighter of the "National Liberation Front", named in reference to the Viet Cong. The President is given a tracking bracelet and is handcuffed to his briefcase before being escorted to an escape pod. The aircraft crashes but the pod survives.

Police are dispatched to rescue the President. Romero, the right-hand man of the Duke of New York, the overall crime boss, warns that the President has been captured and will be killed if any further rescue attempts are made. Meanwhile, former Special Forces soldier Snake Plissken is about to be sent into Manhattan after being convicted of robbing the Federal Reserve. Police Commissioner Bob Hauk offers a deal to Snake: if he rescues the President in time for the summit, Hauk will arrange a full presidential pardon. To keep Snake from going rogue, Hauk has him injected with micro-explosives that will sever his carotid arteries in 22 hours. If Snake is successful, Hauk will neutralize the explosives.

Using a stealth glider to land atop the World Trade Center, Snake follows the tracking bracelet to a vaudeville theater, only to find it on the wrist of a deluded old man. Convinced the President is dead, Snake radios Hauk but is told that he will be shot down if he returns without the President.

Snake meets "Cabbie" who drives an armored taxi that takes Snake to Harold "Brain" Hellman, an adviser to the Duke and a former associate of Snake. Brain, a brilliant engineer, has established an oil well and a small refinery, fueling the city's remaining cars, and tells Snake that the Duke plans to lead a mass escape across the Queensboro Bridge by using the President as a human shield and following a landmine map that Brain has drawn up. Snake forces Brain and his girlfriend Maggie to lead him to the Duke's hideout at Grand Central Terminal. Snake finds the President but is captured.

While Snake is forced to fight in a deathmatch against "Slag", Brain and Maggie kill Romero and flee with the President. Snake kills Slag and finds Brain, Maggie, and the President at the top of the World Trade Center trying to escape in the glider. After a band of inmates pushes it off the building, destroying it, the group returns to street level and encounters Cabbie, who offers to take them across the bridge. Cabbie reveals that he bartered with Romero for the contents of the briefcase; a cassette tape which contains information about nuclear fusion, intended to be an international peace offering. The President demands the tape, but Snake claims it.

The Duke pursues them onto the bridge in his customized Cadillac, setting off mines as he tries to catch up. Brain guides Snake, but they hit a mine, and Cabbie is killed. As they continue on foot, Brain is killed by another mine. Maggie refuses to leave him, shooting at Duke's car until she is run down. Snake and the President reach the containment wall, and guards hoist the President up. The Duke opens fire, killing the guards before Snake subdues him; he attempts to shoot Snake as he is being lifted up by the rope, but the President opens fire on the Duke with a dead guard's assault rifle, violently killing him, before the President finishes lifting Snake. Hauk's doctor saves Snake's life with just seconds to spare.

As the President prepares for a televised speech to the leaders at the summit meeting, he thanks Snake and tells him that he can have anything he wants. All Snake wants to know is how the President feels about the people who died saving him. The President offers only half-hearted regret and lip service for their sacrifice; Snake walks away disgusted. An impressed Hauk offers him a job as his deputy, but Snake just keeps walking. The President's live speech commences, and he plays the cassette tape. To his embarrassment, it only plays Cabbie's favorite song, "Bandstand Boogie". As Snake walks away, he intentionally tears the magnetic tape out of the cassette reel, destroying the actual message that was intended to be delivered by the President.