Escape from L.A.

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Escape from L.A. Movie Poster Image
Violent, semi-spoofy action sequel is too dark for kids.
  • R
  • 1996
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

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.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the violence in Escape from L.A. 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.

User Reviews

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 9 years old September 7, 2013

BAD!!

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... Continue reading
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 th... Continue reading

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 in ESCAPE FROM L.A. He 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 this ludicrous sci-fi actioner. Even though supposedly a sequel, Escape from L.A. 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.

Talk to your kids 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 of Escape from L.A. justified?

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

Movie details

For kids who love sci-fi and action

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