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Demolition Man (1993)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Sci-Fi  |  8 October 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 115,353 users   Metascore: 34/100
Reviews: 204 user | 77 critic | 9 from Metacritic.com

A police officer is brought out of suspended animation in prison to pursue an old ultra-violent nemesis who is loose in a non-violent future society.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Kahan ...
Paul Bollen ...
Andre Gregory ...
Prisoner (as John Enos)


Frozen in 1996, Simon Phoenix, a convicted crime lord, is revived for a parole hearing well into the 21st century. Revived into a society free from crime, Phoenix resumes his murderous rampage, and no one can stop him. John Spartan, the police officer who captured Phoenix in 1996, has also been cryogenically frozen, this time for a crime he did not commit. In 2032, the former cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara have merged into peaceful, utopian San Angeles. Unable to stop him with their non-violent solutions, the police release Spartan to help recapture Phoenix. Now after 36 years, Spartan has to adapt himself to the future society he has no knowledge about. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In the year 2032, Simon Phoenix escapes from prison, on the verge of bringing crime to San Angeles. One man is called back to duty as a last resort. They call him... THE DEMOLITION MAN. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for non-stop action violence, and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 October 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El demoledor  »

Box Office


$57,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,432,191 (UK) (12 November 1993)


£6,182,820 (UK) (14 January 1994)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(4 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Warner Bros. disliked the first cut of the movie so they brought editor Stuart Baird to do some re-editing. The same thing happened to another Sylvester Stallone movie Tango & Cash (1989) which was also heavily re-edited many times by Baird and other editors due to the behind the scenes problems and Warner Bros. disliking earlier cuts of the movie. Originally in Demolition Man, there were some more plot parts including Spartan meeting his grown up daughter in the sewers amongst Edgar Friendly's people. In the movie Spartan is shown protecting some girl during the shootout in sewers, this is his daughter and she is also seen later in the ending scene standing next to Friendly while he is talking with Spartan. Other scenes which were deleted include Phoenix killing Zachary Lamb before the car chase between him and Spartan begins, extra lines of dialogue (some of which can be seen in various trailers for the movie) and longer/additional action scenes (including infamous deleted fight scene between Sylvester Stallone and Jesse Ventura). In one deleted action scene during the battle in sewers, Spartan goes on the bridge from which Phoenix and his gang are shooting from and starts to fight with Phoenix but then bridge turns over. While both of them are hanging on it, Phoenix says to Spartan that bus passengers which he failed to save back in 1996 were already dead, meaning that Spartan was sent to CryoPrison for nothing. In the movie, Phoenix says this to Spartan during the car chase near the end of the movie but Phoenix is not shown speaking onscreen which probably means that the dialogue from the deleted scene was placed in this scene or was dubbed by the actor. Some other deleted and alternate scenes can be seen in several trailers, promotional photos and are also in the novelization of the movie. See more »


Huxley states that because salt is harmful, it has been made illegal. In truth, the minimum requirement of sodium necessary to sustain life has been estimated at 500 mg per day; in other words, without salt, you would die. If you're active and therefore perspire a lot (as is perhaps the case with John Spartan), your need for salt increases significantly. See more »


Lenina Huxley: I have, in fact, perused some newsreels in the Schwarzenegger Library, and the time that you took that car...
JohnSpartan: Hold it. The Schwarzenegger Library?
Lenina Huxley: Yes. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn't he an actor when you...?
JohnSpartan: Stop! He was President?
Lenina Huxley: Yes! Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment which states...
JohnSpartan: I don't wanna know. President...
See more »


Referenced in Hologram Man (1995) See more »


Demolition Man
Written and Performed by Sting
Courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Excellent cultural satire
3 May 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is a reckless Los Angeles policeman, known as the "demolition man" for the destruction he routinely engenders while apprehending big baddies. After a particularly ruthless criminal, Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), sets him up by making it appear that Spartan wantonly caused the deaths of a bus load of hostages, Spartan is sentenced to 60 years or so in prison. The film begins in a not-too-distant future (relative to its 1992/1993 production date) of 1996. Prisons are quite a bit different, and there's a new policy of cryogenically freezing inmates. We cut forward to 2032. Phoenix is up for an obligatory parole hearing when he escapes. The film's 21st Century society is extremely different (worsening cultural chaos, exacerbated by a huge earthquake, precipitated the change), and the "San Angeles" police cannot capture Phoenix or keep him in check. Chief Earle makes a decision to revive Spartan, reasoning that an out of control but effective cop mired in the ways of the late 20th Century may be the only one who can capture the out of control criminal, but he, and the future society, may be in for a lot more than they bargained for by reawakening the Demolition Man.

Demolition Man is one of the funniest, most action-packed and most poignant social satires of at least the last 30 years. It's not necessarily the easiest film to appreciate, as it makes its points through extremely over-the-top "mindless" action and tongue-in-cheek, purposefully cheesy plot and dialogue, but it's well worth trying to acclimate oneself to the style if you're not an action or sci-fi fan, as the satire cuts deep. There are other films with somewhat similar aims, such as Total Recall (1990) and Starship Troopers (1997), which are perhaps just as good as Demolition Man, but they certainly can't top it, and they have aims other than the purely satirical.

The opening scene feels like a typical late 1980s/early 1990s action sequence. At least until we realize that there's not going to be a happy ending for the hostages that Spartan is trying to save. Once we arrive at the future, a lot of viewers might misjudge the performances of the principal cast besides Stallone and Snipes. Sandra Bullock, as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (a reference to Aldous Huxley's book Brave New World), and Benjamin Bratt, as Alfredo Garcia (a reference to Sam Peckinpah's 1974 film, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia), at first seem to be turning in bizarrely incompetent performances. It's only later that we realize they are spot on for the film's "brave new world", which is basically an instantiation of a staunchly moralist cult run by Dr. Raymond Cocteau (a reference to famed director Jean Cocteau combined with Cocteau's friend, novelist Raymond Radiguet).

Technically, the film is quite impressive. The production design, cinematography, effects, staging of the action sequences, score and soundtrack are excellent. But what sets Demolition Man a cut above the rest are the script and the performances--yes, even from Stallone and Snipes, although Bullock, and especially Denis Leary, in a relatively minor part where he gets to do his motor-mouthed, ranting comedy schtick that made him famous, both threaten to steal the show.

Director Marco Brambilla (who has remained oddly inactive since Demolition Man, which was his first film) and his writing "team" skewer a lot of cultural norms as relatively arbitrary conventions. Radio and television commercial jingles are considered the pinnacle of musical art in the film's world. Strict morality is enforced through constant computer monitoring of behavior combined with fines--a running joke throughout the film is that profanity results in fines. Meat and alcohol have been outlawed. So has physical contact, including sex. All restaurants are now Taco Bells (in some cuts of the film intended for foreign markets, this was changed to Pizza Hut instead). There is an underground, outside of the cultic mainstream society, but they're literally underground, living relatively lawless (well, at least they eat meat and drink beers) in tunnels strewn with utility pipes.

As a result, serious crime is a thing of the past, swept under the rug (or into the sewers) and labeled with Orwellian newspeak. Phoenix and Spartan's reintroduction of violence and mayhem, including "murder/death/kill", results in a reawakening of cultural freedom, analogous to their own thawing out. The anti-utopian, anti-utilitarian political message, like that of Orwell's 1984 and later films influenced by the same, such as Equilibrium (2002), couldn't be clearer. And the message can be extended to situations that are not political. I didn't use "cult" above carelessly. The idea is that the society's warts are necessary for individual authenticity. Yes, things can run smoother under a dictatorship, but who wants to live under a dictatorship, even a supposedly "benevolent" one?

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