When this movie was made, it didn't realize it was among a dying breed: The big-budget R-rated action flick. I’m not counting the Matrix films, because I can’t really understand why they were rated R in the first place. It was released around the time that people really started complaining about the violence in the media or Hollywood making R-rated movies and marketing them to kids. An argument this picture did nothing to dissuade.
With its comic-book type premise and execution, the 11-to-17-year-old boy will find this movie irresistible. Yes, there’s a lot of violence. Yes, there’s even some gore (but not much). Yes, there’s even some nudity. But, make no bones about it. It was marketed straight at teens. I actually remember the commercials appearing during cartoons after school.
That doesn’t change the fact that this is the perfect dumb action movie. Lots of explosions, lots of humor, and a great villain in Wesley Snipes. It even goes the extra mile of having an interesting premise with a charming supporting cast in Sandra Bullock (pre-Speed), and Benjamin Bratt. Hell, even Rob Shneider manages to make an appearance and not make you want to see somebody step on his head repeatedly.
Any arguments about story and logic are moot here. They don’t even really try. Stallone plays John Spartan (not an action hero name at all), your typical "renegade cop". Snipes is Simon Pheonix, a psycho killer criminal cut straight from the Jack Nicholson Joker cloth, only with more physical violence. Starting out in a dystopian future (of 1996), the two arch-nemesis battle it out in a supposedly empty building before spectacularly blowing it up. Then, in a glaring display of forensic ineptitude, the courts-convinced that said building contained living hostages at the time- sentence both Spartan and Phoenix to life sentences in cryogenic stasis. Yes, it makes as much sense as it sounds. No, it doesn't matter. Because 36 years later, a villain gets Phoenix paroled and unleashes him on a city that hasn't seen a violent crime in almost 2 decades.
With the police force overmatched, they of course have to turn to the one man who brought him down in the first place. Cue the Demolition Man. Brought back to save a world where the most popular radio station plays nothing but commercial jingles, people only have virtual sex, and all the restaurants are Taco Bell.
A movie that has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, it never pauses long enough for you to get bored, and keeps building until its explosive finale (complete with running from a fireball in slow-motion). While some parts of the film do feel a bit dated-such as the casting pre-Rescue Me-Dennis Leary so they could feature one of his trademark rants in a role that serves no purpose save to distract from the more fun story between Stallone and Snipes, the joke regarding the "Arnold Schwarzenegger Presidential Library" took on a whole new signifigance after he was elected Governator. For a while, I really wondered how long it will take the Republicans to get that amendment passed.
The Verbal Morality Statute, which gave a ticket anytime you used one of George Carlin's infamous 7 Words is only a few years away. Just you wait and see.