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Demolition Man
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Demolition Man More at IMDbPro »

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163 out of 180 people found the following review useful:

Excellent cultural satire

10/10
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
3 May 2005

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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130 out of 167 people found the following review useful:

The Stallone movie ever

10/10
Author: davidfancella from United States
27 June 2005

I thought it was one of the greatest movies of all time. As a social commentary, it's extraordinarily on-target. I mean, come on, this is the movie where the joke was made that Schwarzenegger would be president and Taco Bell would win the franchise wars, and what do you know? Now people want the constitution amended so Arnold can run for president and Taco Bell is winning the franchise wars (they merged with Pizza Hut and KFC).

The story parallels Brave New World and there are numerous references to it. It's the best "Big Brother" film to ever be made. It's got great laughs, great action, and just great stuff. The basic plot is pretty mediocre when you get right down to it, but when you factor in all the detail and the very well-thought script, it's a must-see movie. It's like the anti-movie, it's great, but nobody likes it, apparently.

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90 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

Not as bad as people say!

8/10
Author: Alex Brown (alex_brown@blueyonder.co.uk) from Woking, England
9 February 2002

This is one of those films that it is popular to think is rubbish. I'm not quite sure why. Don't take it seriously and it's a fun ride.

Wesley Snipes and Sly Stallone play off each other well as the forces of bad and good -- old foes that have come out of chryo-generic storage hundreds of years into the future.

Sandra Bullock as the nostalgia [for Stallone's time, naturally] struck cop isn't even rubbish and annoying -- a first time for everything!

Watch out for a fun performance by Nigel Hawthorne also.

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75 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

an action classic!!

9/10
Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
25 March 2002

This movie features Sly Stallone at his muscle bound, destructive best. Around the same time he did the excellent Cliffhanger he also did this nifty action flick. What you get with Demolition man is an entertaining and satirical look at the future of Los Angeles where people walk about in robes and are a peace loving society. Anything remotely bad for you, including spicy foods, is illegal and the whole new system is run by Raymond Cochtoe played by the late Nigal Hawthorne. The opening action scene is set in the present day and is a rip roaring sequence with Stallone polishing off bad guys with stylish flair, before he has a face off with the show stealer Wesley Snipes. Snipes plays the baddest of bad guys Simon Phoenix and does so excellently. The films pacing is good and in particular there are three big action sequences that shine, these are the opening and the end as well as a very good action scene set in a museum. The comedy factor is high in this film and the film certainly has tongue fastened firmly in cheek. The two leads are very good and in particular Snipes revels in his nasty role. Sandra Bullock is good as the gratuitous attractive lady you get in practically all action films. All in all this is a great way to spend 90 or so minutes and is certainly how I would like to remember Sly Stallone, in his action prime. 9/10

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57 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

FUTURISTIC HIGH COMEDY!

7/10
Author: Agent10 from Tucson, AZ
20 May 2002

Sylvester Stallone was really beside himself when he took this film. Instead of trying to be the tough guy, he sort of made fun of his pre-existing persona in his role as John Spartan. Funny, and satirical of a gun-free society, it just proves that peace doesn't necessarily result in the most diverse range of self expression. The humor in the film was exceptional, and Wesley Snipes was great as Simon Phoenix. This also proved to be my favorite film with Sandra Bullock, who subsequently destroyed her career thereafter. This movie will always be good for a laugh, especially for the characters singing all of the commercial jingles.

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38 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Weird, It's A Satirical Action Movie

7/10
Author: mjw2305 from England
30 December 2006

Sgt. John Spartan (Stallone) is a tough cop for a tough age and Simon Pheonix (Snipes) is a nasty and violent criminal. When Stallone finally catches his man, he is found guilty of killing a group of innocent civilians at the same time; and they are both given sentences in the new cryo-prison. When Simon Pheonix escapes into a new world in the year 2032, the police have no way of dealing with such a vicious arch-criminal so they re-animate John Sparton, and so it begins.

I simply love the way the future is portrayed in this film, it is a wonderfully satirical crime free environment where the humans have become ultra-placid geeks under the new regime. Sandra Bullock and Nigel Hawthorne are the two main police-persons that we see and they are brilliantly funny in their performances.

Demolition man is as funny as it is action packed and although it's pretty shallow, it is still great fun to watch.

7/10

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43 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

Awesome movie

Author: Adriane (adriane7@mindspring.com) from chandler, az
15 May 2000

I first saw this movie in the theater when it came out in 93 and loved it. The cool futuristic toys and Stallone and Sandra Bullock make a great on-screen couple. Snipes delivers as the bad guy, and Stallone is the cop who is frozen but thawed out 36 years later to stop him once again. Plenty of one-liners and action.

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36 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Better than expected.

Author: Adam Morrison (dvd53@hotmail.com) from Salmon Beach, New Brunswick
28 January 2002

In 2032 San Angeles,its a felony to swear,its bad to eat greasy food,Taco bell is the only fast food restaurant,and the cops are wimps with no guns,only glow-sticks.When super bad guy Snipes escapes from prison,the only cop who can stop him is Stallone,a cop in an icecube. Its been years since I saw this,so I decided to check it out on Space t.v.The action is pretty good,with a cool fight inside a museum.The whole joke about a crime free & peaceful San Angeles is funny,with Stallone trying to adapt to the new lifestyle.Good one liners are present,example:"You're gonna regret this for the rest of your life.The whole 2 seconds of it! Wesley Snipes is very over the top as a blonde villian.

Rating:**** (out of five)

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43 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

Goofy fun

6/10
Author: Jeff (spoonjef@aol.com) from L.A. CA
27 November 1999

Demolition Man is just good, goofy fun. You plop yourself down when nothing else is on and watch Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes blow up everything around them. Snipes plays Simon Phoenix over the top and that's exactly where he's supposed to be. Stallone has some good lines in this film, and he's actually a funny guy when he plays things straight. Of course, no action film would be complete without the prerequisite snappy one liners, outlandish action and bullets flying everywhere. A silly, but fun film to watch.

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35 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Stallone-fun

5/10
Author: rbverhoef (rbverhoef@hotmail.com) from The Hague, Netherlands
30 July 2003

'Demolition Man' is a lot of fun to watch. A lot of things in the movie don't make any sense but those things create opportunities for some nice action and some funny moments. I am not sure if all the laughs in the movie were meant to be funny, but if you laugh, what does it actually matter.

In the future in the city San Angeles (the area from San Diego to Los Angeles) after the earthquake people live in a perfect world. For a long time no murder has committed. Then Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes)escapes. Over 40 years ago he was a criminal arrested by John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone). Spartan killed a lot of people during Phoenix' arrest, so he was punished as well. They both were frozen, possible in 1996 in a cryo-prison. Now Phoenix has escaped (how he does this is a secret that will be revealed later in the movie) the police can't handle him because they are not used to his violent behavior. The only thing they can come up with is Spartan. With the help of Lt. Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) he must catch Phoenix and learn to know the new world.

The story above sounds ridiculous which it sometimes is. But you can understand there must be a lot of funny moments. Almost everything Spartan used to do is illegal now and he just can't get used to it. Snipes is a great villain, Stallone is nice as long as he is in this kind of movie and Bullock has some fine lines. I enjoyed it very much.

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