Of course, I have all this knowledge of our past thanks to the historical document Demolition Man. Back in 1996, LA police bad-ass John "This Is" Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) performs a one-man raid on the headquarters of Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), a homicidal sociopath that was holding a busload of civilians hostage. Because sending in a one-man SWAT team is standard protocol for the LAPD. Well, Spartan manages to kill off Phoenix's evil henchmen and capture Phoenix, but he blew up the entire building complex in the process. Spartan performed a body heat scan on the complex before entering and found only a handful of people; the handful accounted for Phoenix and his men, so the hostages must have been kept somewhere else. Or were they? In the wreckage of the building, dozens of bodies were recovered; Phoenix attested that Spartan blew up the building knowing that the innocents would die. And because the 1996 LAPD put their trust in known terrorists, Spartan was arrested, tried and convicted of a few dozen counts of manslaughter. His sentence is to be cryogenically frozen for seventy years (that sounds like an inexpensive solution); Phoenix is to be frozen forever, which seems rather silly to me.
|..and the award for "Least Amount of Effort in an Album Cover" goes to...Sting!!!|
Fast-forward to 2032. The city of San Angeles has been devoid of crime and violence for so long that nobody can even remember such things. Except for the people who are old enough to remember. Because, seriously, it was less than 36 years ago, at the absolute longest. This utopia is run by Dr. Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), who has decided what is good for society (unthinking, unquestioning compliance) and what is bad (spicy and other unhealthy foods, curse words, sexual intercourse, etc.). However, Cocteau's San Angeles has its disgruntled citizens, too. Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary) is the leader of a literally underground society that lives in the sewers and cherishes personal freedom, although at the risk of starving to death. For some reason, Simon Phoenix was thawed out for a parole hearing, despite his eternal sentence; even stranger is the fact that he knew voice commands to free himself from his restraints. Phoenix proceeds on a murder spree, something that the SAPD are not equipped to handle. So, how do they catch Phoenix? By thawing out the man who did it last time, John Spartan. Explosions and fish-out-of-water jokes ensue.
I make fun of Demolition Man, but it's because I care. Most movies like this are shallow, boring, and predictable. At the very least, this film is not boring. As far as action movies go, there is a lot to like here. Things go boom, there are some pretty sweet fires, and they even manage to incorporate freezing as an action device --- and not in a way that directly rips off Terminator 2.
|In this dystopian future, the "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" dog never went away.|
Now, as far as the acting goes...well, it goes. Sylvester Stallone does his typical thing; he's barely monosyllabic, but he looks pretty good when he's shooting and punching stuff, so I'm not going to judge the man too harshly. I thought he handled the humor in the script pretty well, even if he never spat out the marbles in his mouth. Wesley Snipes was extremely entertaining as the supervillain of the film; he out-overacted most comic book villains, but I'll be damned if he didn't do it just right. If absolutely nothing else, his fashion sense should be applauded. Not just anyone can pull off pirate pants, you know.
|"Eyes to see you." - not actually a quote from this film.|
|I never played it, but I assume that the lack of physical contact made this a waste of quarters.|
|Do tough guys wear berets just so they can punch anyone who smirks?|
Lefty Gold rating of