Sly Stallone is John Spartan, a tough cop known as the Demolition Man due to the chaos and destruction that inevitably comes with him getting results.
Early in the film Spartan finally manages to do what no-one could manage, he tracked down and captured Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), a dastardly savage mastermind with no morals and no qualms in killing dozens of hostages to get his way.
Unfortunately on this occasion he does just that – 30 innocents perish – and John is tagged with the responsibility due to his unconventional methods.
It must be said that for the fact Phoenix was labeled “ungettable” seems a stretch, sure John Spartan had to dodge a few bullets and bust into the abandoned warehouse HQ singlehandedly but he hardly cracked a sweat doing so. And the less I say about the tenuous leap to judgment over his guilt in the death of civilians the better.
Anyway long story short both Phoenix and Spartan are given the same jail sentence of 50 years (!), however this being the distant future of 1996 they are not thrown behind bars but cryogenically frozen, with subliminal messages being continuously pumped into their brains to convince them of “the error of their ways”.
Still with me? Every so often it seems Phoenix is temporarily thawed for a joke of a parole hearing, he and the warden go through the motions and when he expresses no remorse and shows no signs of rehabilitation it’s straight back into the ice tray for him – Spartan never seems to get this opportunity for some reason.
In 2032 however Phoenix springs an unexpected (*chuckle*) and ingenious escape (not really ingenious). Now much has happened in the world since the “chaos of 2010”, the world is now an extremely sterile and harmless place, everyone is “nice” in every sense of the word… too nice. Everything deemed harmful (read: interesting) has been made illegal: drugs, alcohol, swearing, fatty foods and even sex is banned – with fines being issued on the spot for bad language by automated sensors that littler the landscape.
Everyone not interested in toeing the line has gone off the grid to a vast underground community where they can smoke, drink, swear and bonk to their clogged artery’s content. Through desperation and hunger these rebels must venture to the surface for food, risking capture in doing so. (A wise decision was to cast the leader of these underground rebels Ed Friendly, with Denis Leary – the Asshole himself.)
Back to the line-toers. With everyone being so nice and friendly crime is practically non-existent and the police force are basically little more than onlookers. To give an example of the toothlessness of the force Rob Schneider is a cop, a skinny and extremely young (and pretty) Benjamin Bratt is a cop… and Sandra Bullock is a cop – the tough, rebellious one!
Anyway as movies must after 30 minutes of piss-farting around they realise that the only way to catch a vicious criminal with no remorse and no moral compass is to unleash another one. So the next hour has Phoenix and Spartan chasing each other all over the pretty city, blowing stuff up and shooting at one another while everyone looks on aghast and Sandra Bullock takes notes and dampens her police issue slacks.
It seems that while Spartan was under he was taught life skills better suited to a nursing home, while Phoenix is stringer and more deadly than ever before – and now it appears that he has a new plan.
This big budget flick from the early 90s might have been effective back then but now it is unbelievably dated and the sets in particular are sterile and lack credibility. I know this is a new and improved world but everything looks fake and made out of cardboard or foam. The lingo invented for this new society is ridiculous and laughable for the wrong reasons, especially when they have Bullock repeatedly botching phrases from the 90s with (allegedly) hilarious results.
I had only fuzzy recollections of this film, I knew Snipes had a Mohawk and the most basic details of the plot, what I had forgotten was just how manufactured it all was. From the sets to the dialogue to the props and costumes it is all just so fake and distracting. I wanted to enjoy this as an old school sci-fi shoot ‘em up but in the end gave up trying, when something so obviously fabricated tries to impress and look pretty it is hard to give credit.
After all just look at Heidi Montag, on the outside everything appears bright, shiny and frankly impressive, but ultimately it is 100% man made, and the inside is vacuous, bereft of worth… and packed with sand.
Much the same could be said for Demolition Man. (Maybe not the sand part.)
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Lots of money spent to make it all look good, pity there was precious little behind the façade.