#8 Escape from L.A. (1996)

I have already briefly mentioned my love for the Metal Gear Solid series on this blog and this is likely not the last time I’ll mention it again. For the uninitiated, creator Hideo Kojima when creating the first incarnation on the MSX2 was greatly inspired by the action movies of the time. The name for protagonist Snake comes from Kurt Russell’s role as special forces operative Snake Plissken in Escape from New York. In Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake even uses it as a pseudonym introducing himself as Lt. Junior Grade Iroquois Pliskin.

That brings us to Escape from L.A. the sequel to Snake’s initial outing in New York. It takes place in 2013, when Los Angeles county has become an island due to a crazy earthquake that flooded the San Fernando Valley. As a result of the country’s current leadership, everything fun is illegal and those that aren’t down with “Moral America” can take the electric chair or be exiled to Los Angeles Island. One day a Che-like revolutionary seduces the president’s daughter and with her help acquires a remote control that uses satellites to wipe out all the electronics of a targeted area. Snake having been deported to the island for some more crimes, is offered the mission in exchange for a pardon. Once again for motivation he’s been infected with a virus that will kill him in less than 10 hours.

This movie is more or less the same as it’s predecessor, except it’s in Los Angeles. Even the fact that they made LA into an island of miscreants says much about it being a rehash of the previous film. As far as playing to its new setting Snake gets to go surfing and is captured by a doctor that cuts the most attractive parts from his prisoners’ faces to improve the looks of his mutants (that are so due to excessive plastic surgery). Even the switcheroo at the end, except the consequences of Snake keeping the remote are far greater than in New York.

Seeing this movie the first time, I couldn’t help but think the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 was somehow inspired by the ending to this film. Plissken uses the remote to activate the world code sending the entire planet into electronic oblivion (incidentally saving the President’s daughter from execution). Snake via Naomi Hunter’s virus, wipes out the Patriots’ AIs halting its control over the world (mostly the war economy), but leaving the resources for modern civilization intact.

Overall I much prefer Escape from New York, while L.A. is still fun to watch it still feels like kinda the same story. Then again MGS and MGS2 were basically the same game, but far differing heaviness to their endings.




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