Movie Of The Day: Demolition Man (1993)

A man truly responsible for his own success, the underrated and multitalented Sylvester Stallone exploded onto the scene in 1976 with the multi Oscar-winning Rocky (people tend to forget that) and quickly became one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. As the eighties drew to a close however, his star was seriously dampened by a couple of failed comedic attempts and his career was in jeopardy. Luckily for him, his 1993 “action comeback” Cliffhanger was a huge success, almost quadrupling its budget worldwide. Mere months later, Demolition Man was released.

In the then future year of 1996, Los Angeles is being terrorized by sadistic criminal Simon Phoenix, but when tough violent cop John Spartan finally apprehends him they are both sentenced to many years of being cryonically frozen as Spartan is believed to be guily of involuntary manslaughter. When Phoenix somehow escapes in 2032, the seemingly utopian society of the time aren’t capable of dealing with him and decide to unfreeze Spartan.

Demolition Man marks the directing debut for Canadian filmmaker Marco Brambilla (Dinotopia) and was written by Peter M. Lenkov (13 episodes of CSI: NY), Robert Reneau (Action Jackson) and Daniel Waters (Sex And Death 101). In addition to Stallone, the film stars Wesley Snipes (The Art Of War I & II), Sandra Bullock (Premonition), Benjamin Bratt (The Andromeda Strain), Nigel Hawthorne (The Winslow Boy), former wrestler Jesse Ventura (Batman & Robin) as well as Rob Schneider (You Don’t Mess With The Zohan) and Jack Black (Tropic Thunder) in early roles. The film takes its title from The Police’s eponymous song which is featured during the end credits. Trailer and review after the jump

For some reason a lot of people dismiss Demolition Man, criticizing it for being an “unintentional comedy”. To them I have this to say: “WTF?!”. It should be clear to anyone watching it that movie is most definitely intended to be a comedy, and it’s a damn good one at that. The utopian future depicted has people basically reverting to a childlike state of innocence and naïveté, believing radio commercials to be the height of musical achievement, touching to be icky and swear words to be the most violent thing ever. Also, they mysteriously use three seashells instead of toilet paper.

As for the action, it’s decent but if you’re looking for a Stallone film to blow your mind with badassery, this isn’t the one. The affair does feel really nineties after all, a decade that really wasn’t the best and most dynamic for action films, in my opinion at least. Still, Snipes and Stallone do their stuff and they do it well, but once again the main appeal remains the film’s comedic elements which are truly genius.

While not a mega-hit on the level of Cliffhanger, Demolition Man was still a decent success and remains one of Stallone’s most well-known films, even sparking sequel talk recently. As for Stallone, he continues to be one of the most interesting and genuinely intelligent people working in movies today.

Verdict: A great, underrated film. Demolition Man currently holds a 6.2/10 on IMDB and a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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