For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
2,786 Ratings

Escape from New York

Directed by John Carpenter
United Kingdom, United States, 1981
Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller


1997, in a dystopian Manhattan. The city has been turned into an anarchic maximum security prison ruled by Isaac Hayes’ diabolical Duke. When an Air Force One crash strands the president on the lawless island, only mercenary Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) can get him out alive.

Our take

John Carpenter’s cult classic epic plunges his muse Kurt Russell into an expressionist New York seemingly stuck in eternal night. The iconic presences of Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine, combined with peerless widescreen camerawork, shape this into a neo-western with an anti-authoritarian edge.

Escape from New York Directed by John Carpenter
Nearly 40 years after it was first released, John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981) is no longer a warning of a coming dystopian future. Instead, it’s a vision of a bombed-out dystopian past that has become our present.
July 05, 2019
Read full article
With economy and simplicity, Carpenter creates the indelible, and in Russell he found his best collaborator. Michael Myers remains Carpenter’s most identifiable creation, though it’s The Shape’s utter lack of eccentricity that defines him. Snake is the first of Carpenter’s muscled, masculine heroes, an archetype the filmmaker would manipulate to satirical effect with Russell’s Jack Burton and Roddy Piper’s unnamed blue collar bruiser.
September 11, 2017
Read full article
Though John Carpenter amassed several classics to his name by the time he made Escape from New York, the 1981 film feels in many respects like the director’s quintessential work. A genre mash-up of action, suspense, black comedy, and science fiction, the film demonstrates Carpenter’s capacity to juggle multiple styles and tones with his minimal aesthetic. Economy is the director’s trademark, and it’s this film, his first large-scale work, that truly demonstrates it.
April 19, 2015
Read full article

Related films