What if? There are not enough “what if’s” in modern cinema. Sure there are plenty of “what if we put Kate Hudson in a rom com” questions being asked but the answers are so obvious they do not need to be tested*. Rather I am thinking of the big “What If’s”, perhaps best illustrated this year in Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow, namely what if they could have made the current big kind of dumb action movie in the 1930’s?

Escape From New York is a big WHAT IF movie from a plot point of view. What if crime had got so bad they decided to turn Manhattan into maximum security prison. And then what if the president accidentally got caught in said prison. Who could you get to rescue him? Only the baddest muthafucker on the block, that’s who (or at a pinch you could get the bloke from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes in an eyepatch). But how do you get him to follow your orders, he is a bad muthafucker after all. Obvious you put a bomb in his bonce.

Escape From New York is clearly meant to be a silly, over-the-top movie and John Carpenter’s ideal partner in crime is Kurt Russell who gurns remarkably through the whole affair. Coupled with Donald Pleasance’s surprisingly straight turn as the President and you get the feeling that fun was the order of the day at every stage of the production. Special effects are ropey, the distopianism does not bare thinking about but this is a celebration of cinema as stupidity and is an excellent ride. It is also one of the first films wot resemble computer games, which is impressive because there were not really computer games like this at the time. The boss/level end dichotomy is played out a number of times to Carpenter’s Commodore 64 music and its influence – if not in film – can be seen in hundred of early nineties Nintendo games.

Actually, its influence on dumb action movies is pretty obvious too.

*Pretty much what happened the last time you put Kate Hudson in a romantic comedy.