Demolition Man

Alright, here is the first of many reviews. To start the project off with a literal bang, I chose Demolition Man today. This 1993 blockbuster stars Sylvester Stallone as Detective John Spartan, a modern-day Rip van Winkle who wakes up in a 2032 after being imprisoned by cryogenic stasis. The antagonist in this one is Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), who also served time in a cryo prison after carving out an anarchistic kingdom in Los Angelos during the 1990s. Phoenix escapes from during a parole hearing, and Detective Spartan is sent to catch him. The city of San Angelos, portrayed as a utopian planned society where violence, swearing and unhealthy foods have been outlawed, is completely unequipped to deal with a menace like Phoenix. So, they thaw out John Spartan to solve their problems.

While the movie was very enjoyable, I really can’t give it a thumbs-up. Stallone did a nice job portraying the out-of-his-time cop prone to massive overkill (hence his nickname, Demolition Man). I liked seeing him try to adjust to life in 2032, and generally failing to integrate. In a world where liberalism has been taken to an absurd extreme, Spartan is frequantly derided as a “Neanderthal” and “cave man”. Still, he manages to catch the bad guy and introduce a little chaos into a society that badly needed it.

What I do have a problem with, though, is Wesley Snipes’s character, the main antagonist. Simon Phoenix, while adequately demonstrated to be a complete sociopath, is ridiculously camp for a terrorist. Between cackling like a witch and delivering snappy one-liners right before a bit of gratuitous violence, I wondered if perhaps I had put on To Wong Foo (something I plan on reviewing sometime in the future) by mistake. Phoenix certainly seemed like he should have been wearing a dress and heels, if his obviously flaming personality was any indication.

The scripts was also poorly written. Jokes became repetitive fast (How many times can the characters be given a ticket for swearing before it gets old?) and the dialogue was lackluster. Spartan’s sidekick Lieutenant Huxley (Sandra Bullock) must have mistaken early 1990s phrases in a vaguely homoerotic way at least a half dozen times. Speaking of Bullock, I feel that she never really had the chance to shine in this movie. Her character had enormous potential, but the writers failed to develop her enough. Instead, they portrayed her as rather one-dimensional, waiting until the end to give her even a small piece of the spotlight.

The one thing that may redeem this film is that the thematic elements are strong here. Drawing from Rip van Winkle and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the idea of one man standing against liberalism run amok is compelling. In history’s eyes, this is what will make Demolition Man a valuable part of American culture.



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