When The President of The United States crashes down in post apocalyptic Manhattan, who do you send in to get him? The guy from Death Wish? Agent K from Men In Black? No! Goldie Hawn's husband of course! Presenting...Escape From New York!
The year was 1997...but not the 1997 we all know. No O.J. verdict or Mike Tyson nibbling Evander Holyfield's ear. In this 1997, World War III is about over and both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. are about done beating the shit out of each other. A peace summit is called for and with a very special informative tape on nuclear fission centering on guaranteeing that peace, the President of the United States is given that tape and sent off to the overseas summit.
Part of the genius flightplan for Air Force One is to pass over the east coast and naturally, New York City. The Big Apple, however, isn't the same ultra safe mecca we know it to be today. In 1988, with the crime rate rising to 400% nationwide, a multitude of criminals were locked into a brand new maximum security prison that used to be Manhattan Island. (*NOTE: the people giving a 400% estimate on the crime rate when 100% is the maximum percentage you can give any measurement were shot) And thanks to a batshit crazy terrorist disguised as a stewardess on Air Force One, the Prez's plane took a swan dive into the middle of the prison.
Shown here with cutting edge 90's technology. That is a bleak future.
Thankfully, the President was able to escape the plane, wishing his cabinet the best in their future endeavors and using the roomy escape pod to drop down and away from fiery death.
But the President is inside of a place where no sane man would go to get him.
With a Maxell (I'm assuming) cassette tape that will save or possibly destroy the world in his possession, getting the President back within twenty four hours, the exact amount of time before the summit conference begins is imperative.
A plan of action is needed. A carefully thought out plan and the right men are needed to execute that plan. There's only one man that can handle this.
Yeah...wait...well, he was "The Bad" in "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" so he's got that going for him...
Police Commissioner Bob Hauk is shitting his jumpsuit at the idea of snatching the President off of an island filled with insane criminals so with a deadline nearing and a desperate want to live, he makes the call to bring in an expert to do the job.
Originally, John Carpenter thought TWO eye patches would make him even cooler, but the idea was shot down...
Former U.S. Army Lieutenant "Snake" Plissken, a Special Forces operative and recipient of two Purple Hearts got a raw deal from his superiors and turned to a life of crime. Busted trying to rob the Federal Reserve, this man with balls the size of small planetoids was tapped by Commissioner Houk to go get the President and his oh so important mix tape. To sweeten the deal and keep Snake from falling asleep with boredom, Houk was prepared to offer a full pardon for Snake's crimes for success but he had to do it within the 24 hour time limit.
With the deal accepted and Snake given a bunch of cool stuff like in those James Bond films, Houk gave him a fancy tracking wristband with the countdown clock to the summit ticking away and thanks to a mouthy intern, Snake uncovers the fact that what Houk told Snake was a pair of B-12 vitamin shots in his neck turned out to actually be a pair of tiny ass explosives that would go off in Snake's body in 24 hours if he didn't come back with the President.
So, faced with thoughts of caving in Lee Van Cleef's skull with the heel of his boot and saving the President before he resembled a gigantic Pez dispenser, how does this master of bad ass plan to pull off this rather daunting task?
With only one bridge going in and out of Manhattan, which the bad guys are watching, it's decided that the best way into the city is to fly in. Whereas a helicopter would be too noisy and crashing another jet liner would be kinda pricey, Snake would pilot a cool ass glider into Manhattan and unable to land the glider in the streets filled with cannibalistic criminals, all he'd have to do is land it on top of the World Trade Center.
Piece of cake with that snazzy 90's technology, right?
Oh come on! He's only got one eye! It's stuff like THIS that makes him such a pleasant fellow...
But he does succeed with his precision landing, glider poised on top of the building, ready to fly himself and the Prez out of Crazytown when they return.
Following a device that tracked the President's heart rate, Snake proceeded through scenic downtown Manhattan. Tracking the device to a theater where a performance of "Phantom of the Opera" (check reference on that) was going on, sadly, Snake finds a transient wearing the device but no President. Dejected, Snake quickly finds himself being stalked by the local residents and only narrowly being saved by one of the only city residents that wasn't corrupt or clinically insane.
"Now, I'm gonna pass on the regular fare of a jar of urine and your pinkie toe because you're Snake Plissken and you've got a giant fucking gun. So, in town on business?"
Realizing that returning with no President meant no neck or upper body when those little explosives went off, Snake surmised that the President was still alive and with his new aptly named pal "Cabbie" being a fountain of information, the stodgy old man informed Snake of someone who knew where the President was.
Trusting a kind hearted loon he just met, Snake goes with Cabbie to find Brain (the future sure is easy on remembering names, ain't it?) who works for the guy that's holding the President hostage. Turns out that The Brain, once a thief named Harold was an old pal of Snake's and Snake is surprised to see him alive, seeing as how all of Snake's friends end up dead.
Gotta warn you, Snake. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen swore to avenge me. You don't want none of that...
Feeling guilty for turning on Snake and getting him captured by the cops, fearful of having several new holes added to his body by an automatic weapon, or moreover looking for a way out of the insane asylum, Brain decides to help Snake get the Prez back IF he agrees to take Brain along and out of Manhattan. Having promised Cabbie as well a seat in the glider with room only for Snake and The President, he gladly accepts the offer. We then get a chance to meet someone who defines why they call him "Brain".
Well, one of them is well armed...yowza...
Maggie was the sumptuous bodyguard of Brain, stowing a hand cannon (not where you think, but I'm right there with you. High five!) and putting holes in anyone that looked at Brain the wrong way. The deal included Maggie and her two friends to come along out of the city, pushing past the maximum capacity of the glider...but Snake wasn't one to turn anyone away, adding Maggie to the departure list.
The bad guy holding the President is known as "The Duke of New York", leader of a massive group of thugs that control the prison and once the President's plane went down, he had his associates spirit the President and his stylish attache case with special tape into safe holding.The plan being for the Duke and several hundred thugs to cross the heavily mined bridge that led to freedom, with Brain and his special map of the mines in hand and the President as a human shield. When he arrives at Brain's pad to get that map, Snake and company double back to the Duke's place and find the President, but things go south as Snake gets captured.
So leaving Snake for dead in a deathmatch arena, Brain and Maggie freed the President and deciding that screwing Snake over once in life felt so good he wanted seconds, they would take the glider and get lost. But Snake prevailed as he always did, delivering his opponent a free lobotomy and managing to slip out of the Duke's palace when the Duke learned that Brain took off with that precious map he needed as well as the President.
Who's the cat that stole my map and my President? I'm being serious! Who the hell is he?!
Unintentionally rendezvousing at the World Trade Center, everyone deals with the bummer that the glider was released from the roof and destroyed, leaving the group to make their way off of the island across a bridge filled with land mines. With the Duke close behind and only an hour left before Snake unwillingly sheds a bunch of skin, the race is on.
With Cabbie at the wheel of...well...his cab, our intrepid group sped across the 69th Street Bridge, following Brain's map to avoid hitting those mines and being torn to shreds, the Duke of New York close behind in a Cadillac...complete with chandeliers on the front of his vehicle.
Chandeliers. Like THAT would make it through inspection.
With his namesake paying off, Brain navigates them through the minefield and guarantees that they'll all make it to safety. Except for hitting a mine that cracks the cab in half and well...
So the crew, undaunted continue across the bridge on foot, hoping to outrun a speeding Cadillac and following Brain's map as well his brilliant guidance, they grow ever closer to making...jeez
Harold aka "Brain" (1946-1997)
Fulfilling the rumor that any friend of Snake's doesn't make it to the end credits, Snake and The President see their goal in sight and call out to Maggie, taken aback that her boyfriend was so poorly nicknamed decides to give Snake the time he needs and sacrifices herself by opening fire on The Duke and hopefully scoring a killshot through the windshield of a moving vehicle.
In her defense, it's a sweet fucking gun...
Maggie and "the boys" (1953-1997)
Before pimping out the grill of The Duke's Caddy with Maggie's body, one of her gunshots (as well as her body) forced The Duke to crash his car, starting a footrace across the remaining part of the bridge in a race for their lives. Arriving at the walls of the prison, a harness is sent down to spirit the President to safety, Snake still limping his way to the wall and the Duke in pursuit. As the harness came back down for Snake to be spirited away, imagine the hero's surprise when he stopped halfway up the towering wall, leaving Snake as target practice for the Duke.
Psyche! It was just the President distracting The Duke, using Snake as bait so he could gun The Duke down in cold blood from high above. Some "leader of our nation" this guy is. Resorting to violence like that to deal with criminals? Was that called for?
The target practice pushed him pretty far. Making him watch "Truck Turner"? Right over the edge...
With only seconds left, the mouthy intern from earlier arrived to neutralize the explosives, keeping them from exploding as the time ran out and Snake breathed a sigh of relief...not considering that there were STILL tiny explosive capsules in his bloodstream...but that's all right. Mission accomplished.
The President was saved and the tape, which seemed more important than the President would be played via a broadcast from the jail, saving the world as well. Asking the President how he felt about what went down and the lives lost, the Prez gave a standard bullshit speech to Snake and as he gave the President the tape helped put everything into perspective for the one eyed warrior:
He decided not to beat the living shit out of Houk, realizing one of Houk's own men would probably "accidentaly" put a bullet in his skull eventually.
He should probably go into a less stressful job field like automotive sales and robbing federal reserves was not a prudent investment towards his future.
And fuck the world at large because he switched the tapes so the summit didn't hear anything about "nuclear fission" but instead was treated to "Cabbie's House Jams '92", probably spinning the world into a greater degree of chaos, but hey...
Who the hell wants to sell cars for a living?