Demolition Man

June 13, 2015 at 10:35 pm (8 Heads, Demolition Man) (, , , , , )

Demolition Man – 1993 – United States

In a futuristic year 1996, rampant crime has transformed America into an urban wasteland. After a hostage situation escalates into a massacre, thuggish rogue cop John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) and cartoonishly maniacal criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) are frozen in a cryogenic penitentiary. Fast forward to the year 2032. Society has become a “pussy whipped Brady Bunch version of itself” where alcohol, caffeine, meat, sex, swearing, and spicy food are illegal. No one has died of unnatural causes in 16 years. In this helplessly peaceful world, Simon Phoenix escapes imprisonment, steals guns from a museum and goes on a rampage. The hapless police are unprepared for the ensuing bloodbath and must defrost John Spartan to stop it. Havoc ensues.

Demolition Man’s vision of the future is full of imaginatively farcical details. Popular music consists of 20th century advertising jingles. After the “Franchise Wars”, all restaurants have been replaced by Taco Bell. And, somewhat prophetically, the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who does not appear in Demolition Man) is president of the United States. This world makes a surreal backdrop for the many over-the-top shootouts, brawls, and car chases. The film’s first scene begins with John Spartan bungee jumping from a helicopter into the middle of a gun fight, and ends with a whole city block exploding. From there, the frantic pacing only persists.

But Demolition Man’s speculative elements are more interesting than its action sequences. Like most fictional utopias, a conspiracy of oppression is afoot, and one of the film’s central themes is the conflict between social freedom and control. The naive and passive future society recalls Aldous Huxley’s novel A Brave New World (1932), and it is not a coincidence that one of the film’s characters (Lenina Huxley) shares his name.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. Demolition Man is apparently named after a song by The Police, so it is only appropriate that Sting wrote and performed the film’s terrible tuneless theme song.

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