Movie Reviews 175 – Demolition Man (1993)

Demolition ManA movie pitting dual dubious thespians Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes in a futuristic Super Cop versus Super Villain showdown makes you want to lick your lips in anticipation right?. Demolition Man sure didn’t appeal to me back in ‘93 and after hearing the inevitable scorching reviews I just forgot that this movie even existed. (It’s called “Motivated forgetting” where your brain protects itself from psychological trauma.)

But when I came across this DVD I must have been in a nostalgic mood as I decided to pick it up despite some remnant instincts putting up an ill fated fight to come back to my senses. And it then took me quite a while after that to once again rouse a mood to view the film. But I have to admit that knowing exactly what I was in for softened the blow and I was actually enjoying the movie, dated action sequences, corny dialog and all. Even learning that one of the co-stars was Sandra Bullock (who I really don’t like as an actress) was not enough to stop me which is saying a lot.

We begin in a near future era in which John Spartan (Sly) is a feisty and aggressive cop battling his arch rival, criminal Simon Phoenix (Snipes). He’s taken hostages and is hiding out in some enormous building complex. All the other cops are wary of doing anything but Spartan takes charge, rushes in and shooting Phoenix’s gang of thugs. Phoenix is captured but has another ace up his sleeve, a booby trap that blows up the building. The hostages are found dead and Spartan is convicted of the crime. Both Spartan and Phoenix end up in cryogenic ice pucks!

That is until Phoenix is reanimated for a paroled hearing in the year 2032, and manages to escape. The world has changed a lot in the intervening years and police work, largely automated, is more accustomed to petty lawbreakers than anything really violent. Phoenix is clearly out of their league so they unfreeze Spartan to hunt him down. Spartan is teamed with officer Huxley (Bullock) all too eager for old-style down and dirty law enforcement. Spartan on the other hand has a hard time adjusting to a society where tickets are handed out for using foul language.

The movie quickly boils down to a bunch of comic sequences where are two combatants are stymied by how society works (or doesn’t work) in the future, all while their battle rages on. It’s all good clean (if goofy) fun, as long as you keep expectations low. Really low.

As I watched this movie I couldn’t get the similarities between Sly as Spartan and another futuristic cop movie he managed to mangle, the beloved character of Judge Dredd in the 1995 titular named movie. At least here, he’s just messing a throwaway character. And ‘throwaway’ is pretty much the adjective that describes this movie.


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