Escape from L.A. Movie Poster Image

Escape from L.A.

Violent, semi-spoofy action sequel is too dark for kids.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The worst-case-scenario script tells us that while freaks, terrorists, and gun-crazed Latino-Leftist gangs and warlords may be nasty, puritanical Christians and cops and US government authorities are worse, maybe. Or, as Plissken puts it, "America died a long time ago." Conclusion proposes that this simply isn't a world worth preserving.

Positive role models

Plissken is a hard-bitten, surly guy throughout, though not wantonly cruel. US police-military forces are fascistic types commanded by a Nazi-like Christian dictator. Los Angeles villains are stereotypical gun- and car-crazed Latinos. One sympathetic type surprisingly reveals herself to be a Muslim.


Much shooting, with fatalities. Hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting, earthquake damage explosions and fireballs, and one gore scene in which human body parts lay around in a mad-science lab milieu. None of it is very realistic.


Glamorous LA street girls, gang molls, and prostitutes in skimpy leather and fetish-type outfits. One such character is a transsexual. Mention that sex outside of marriage has been rendered illegal.


The s-word, the f-word, "Godamnit," "ass" and "asshole."


Universal Pictures logo and a euphemistic cameo by a deformed Disneyland (the "Happy Kingdom").

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cigarettes (one brand labeled "American Spirit") are equated broadly, literally with strength and manliness -- and they're banned (along with drugs) by the fascist USA of tomorrow. The Che Guevera-lookalike villain smokes cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that violence here includes gunfire, thrown knives, electrocutions, and rocket launches. Do-not-do-this-at-home stuff includes reckless motorcycle stunts. Swearing is at a typical R-level. The main character smokes cigarettes in a no-smoking country, the act upheld as the last vestige of the American spirit, literally. Negative stereotypes include Left-leaning Latino gangster-warlords and a thoroughly despicable, Right-wing Christian president who orders his own daughter executed.

Parents say

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What's the story?

After events in Escape From New York, a harsh USA has gone from bad to worse as a fundamentalist Christian (Cliff Robertson) gets elected president-for-life, relocates the White House to Lynchburg, Virginia, proclaims a new "moral" country, and turns the ruined Los Angeles -- a wrecked island after a massive 2000 earthquake and ongoing aftershocks -- into a deportation zone, not only for criminals, but also atheists, Muslims, nonconformists, illegals, and anyone else not in step with Family Values. But the president's rebel daughter has stolen an American world-domination weapon control and fled to LA to hook up with revolutionary terrorists she met online. Ruthless US authorities once again capture slippery outlaw-war hero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) and force him to go into Los Angeles and retrieve the gadget -- and kill the First Daughter, on her dad's orders.

Is it any good?


It almost helps not to have seen the earlier Escape From New York (1981) to enjoy the ludicrous ESCAPE FROM LA. Even though supposedly a sequel, the sci-fi actioner is more akin to an alternative version of the original (like YA author Gary Paulsen's published what-if riffs of his classic novel Hatchet). Hot-and-cold running filmmaker John Carpenter hits absolutely the same marks subplot-for-subplot, character-for-character, only with quirky West Coast substitutes, i.e. a ghoulish Beverly Hills gang/cult addicted to plastic surgery, who cut up fellow Angelenos for spare parts. There's a visibly bigger budget, yet the CGI f/x are stiff and fake-looking. The social satire and cynicism of the first movie are also cranked up high, especially hostility toward Christians -- but at least the knowingly over-the-top stunts, absurdity, and weirdos make it easier to laugh this one off.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Snake Plissken. Is he a hero or a character with no redeeming social value? Is what he does at the end justified?

  • Ask viewers of the back-to-back movies which Escape they liked better, New York or LA.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 6, 1996
DVD/Streaming release date:December 15, 1998
Cast:Kurt Russell, Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi
Director:John Carpenter
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and some language

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Kid, 9 years old September 7, 2013


What the? This guy Christian looks like the guy who wants to save your life! well if you want something like that, look for treasure island. this movie includes violence, but they go ahead and try to make it a hint comedic and dramatic, well, its not happening. I wasted $2.00 on this dud. so I deserve to say this: Don't watch this crap
Teen, 13 years old Written bykimbiggs August 8, 2017

Really enjoyable but not for kids my age.

I actually really enjoyed this movie. Some of the plot was a little weird, but hey, almost everything in the 80's is a little weird. When I first saw I thought it should have been PG-13 but after watching again i realized that (in my mind) it may not be very gory or have a lot sex stuff in it but it did have a lot of adult themes. But i think its a very good movie. just for older people.