Director: Marco Brambilla
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne, Benjamin Bratt, Denis Leary
Plot: Police officer John Spartan (Stallone) is incarcerated in a hi-tech cryo-prison, where prisoners are frozen for their sentence, awakening in a strange, new future.
Stallone has quite a few solid movies to his name. His success is mainly down to the commercially successful franchises, Rocky and Rambo, although each of those never quite topped their original hit. A lot of people forget about Stallone’s stand-alone movies though and while it is there, we might find some of the weaker entries, there are still a few hidden gems. Demolition Man has to be up there with the actor’s best work.
The reason I like Demolition Man so much is because it is so much more than a Sci-Fi action that pits Stallone against a bunch of people that need to be killed, followed by a witty quip. It is actually a very clever dissection into the future, one that feels more and more necessary to explore, especially as our world slips closer and closer to making this farcical parody of the future a scary reality. It starts off in 1996 with Stallone’s maverick cop taking on Wesley Snipes career criminal in an explosive opening gambit, which sees Stallone’s poor decision making result in the death of Snipes’ hostages. He is sentenced to 70 years imprisonment in a new form of prison: a cryo-cell which freezes you until your sentence is up, while using subconscious suggestion to reform you. When Stallone wakes up, he finds that the world has changed drastically. It is here Brambilla pokes fun at his suggestion of a future. The world has gone on to ban anything unhealthy, taking the train of thought which has given birth to the restrictions on alcohol and tobacco sales, and stretched it to its natural conclusion. Everything that could be seen as unhealthy as been banned: chocolate, red meat, salt. Even sex has been downgraded to a telekinetic link between partners. As a result, Brambilla shows us a society that is so scared of the potential for danger, they go through their lives missing out on so much. Sure, for entertainment purposes, the message has been exaggerated drastically, so everyone who isn’t Stallone is a blithering idiot, but it makes for some sobering propaganda. But alongside the political message, Brambilla makes sure his movie is some damn good fun. Stallone is rarely this entertaining, grumbling his way through this silly scenario and doing what he does best: kicking ass. When Wesley Snipes’ utterly fantastically villainous baddie wakes up out of his own cryo-sleep, Stallone is the only character who stands a chance of taking him down. With a police force so used to the quiet Utopian life of the censored future, they have no chance of taking down a real criminal (one scene sees two responding officers trying to arrest Snipes with the help of a manual). Snipes finds himself in his perfect haven, a world ripe for the taking. The fun comes in Stallone trying to make something out of his team, Bullock and Bratt, who are more than happy to listen to the radio play ‘Top Ten Commercial Jingles from the 90s’. Cue explosions, action movie quips and inter-character banter, but slap bang in the middle of an interesting Sci-Fi universe. Its originality is key, putting it above the other Stallone flicks. It is a shame that there aren’t more movies that are this clever and this entertaining. Look out for the jokes at the future that worked out to be a little too close to the truth. President Schwarzenegger anyone?
Final Verdict: A well-acted, well written action thriller, something that is in short supply, especially among the Stallones.