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Demolition Man

Demolition Man

What She said:


I can tell you right now, before you even bother to scroll down, that The He loves this movie.  It provides a blend of action, comedy, and sci-fi that I’m sure The He absolutely treasures.  While I’ve seen Demolition Man before, this was my first viewing in quite some time, and honestly, I had forgotten much of the movie.  All I knew was that it has Sylvester Stallone and takes place in the not-too-distant future.  But, I was more than willing to give the film another shot because it also stars Ms. Sandra Bullock, one of my personal favorites.  So, I sat down, took in the sights, and was pretty well amused for the full one-hour-and-fifty minutes of Demolition Man.

The movie’s name will give you the impression that this is a straight-up man-tacular action-fest.  But it’s not.  Yes, there’s shooting and blowings up, but Demolition Man actually serves as a pretty cheeky comedy satire.  Released in 1993, the movie opens in the year 1996.  John Spartan (Stallone), known by many as “the demolition man” because of his destructive methods of apprehending suspects, is on the trail of psychopathic crookster Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes).  Spartan manages to get Phoenix, but in the meantime an entire building is blown up and several innocent hostages are killed.  Both Phoenix and Spartan are punished by being cryogenically frozen and psychologically manipulated to correct their tendencies. 

We then fast-forward to the year 2032, and the Los Angeles setting is now known as San Angeles.  A bunch of nearby areas apparently merged together after some huge earthquake decimated the area.  And San Angeles is a utopia where the cryo rehabilitation process, and a bunch of heinous rules, have worked together to pretty much obliterate crime entirely.  This bizarrely sterile world is rocked when Phoenix escapes and is back on the loose.  The SAPD decides to unfreeze Spartan to go after him, since he understands exactly what makes Phoenix tick.  But things are not so easy to Spartan, as he’s missed out on a great deal over the past 36 years, including the death of his wife.  He teams up with the super-nostalgic Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) to try to chase after Phoenix and bring him back in.  In the meantime, there’s also an underground uprising beginning to take legs under the leadership of Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary).  It’s all interconnected, but I’ll try not to give away too much here.

Demolition Man

So, the thing I like most about this movie is the comedy.  When Stallone comes out of the cryo vault and realizes the world is completely different from when he went in, things just get pretty funny.  The breed of people that exist in 2032 are entirely different from those of 1996, and they cannot relate at all.  Stallone and Bullock’s banter is sharp and hilarious.  The filmmakers make light of this concept of a utopian society and point out all the ways in which it zombifies the people.  The movie also paints a bit of a darker picture about the perils of this type of censor of society.  It’s great to see a younger Bullock before her prime, already testing her wit.  It’s also neat to see her team up with Benjamin Bratt long before Miss Congeniality.  I honestly had not realized that they had been in a movie with each other before.

There are aspects of Demolition Man that seem dated, even though the movie does take place in the future.  That said, I was surprised by how many of the jokes were still actually relevant.  Also, I’d like to note that the cars are pretty spot-on by today’s standards.   This film does a good job of taking what could have been a straight-up action movie and twisting it slightly into something with a broader audience appeal.  It’s not distinctly macho, and offers something that most viewers can enjoy.  This isn’t quite a family movie—too much language and inappropriate humor—but it works for anyone 16+. 

Thumbs up.

What He said:


I feel bad for the young men of today’s generation. There aren’t any real action heroes for them to idolize. I grew up in an era of manly men. The 80s all the way up through the mid-90s were a great time for action movies. It was filled with all kinds of men of different shapes and size, who could kick ass in a variety of different ways.  Arnold did it with size and raw power. Van Damme did it with finesse. Stallone did it with more of a blue collar approach. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he’s extremely fit. Not as strong as Arnold or fancy as Van Damme, he is something of a mixture of both styles. He throws a good punch due to his experience from the Rocky films, but he’s also not afraid to get ugly and tackle or slam ya if he has to.

A few weeks before I initially reviewed this movie, I watched Tango and Cash for the first time in years. You can read that review here if you’re interested. After that left a sour taste in my mouth, I wanted to check out one of his movies I liked much more. I had a chance to watch Demolition Man. I watched it again recently, because I had been catching bits and pieces of it on TV and had the desire to see it again. Plus, the she has never reviewed it, so I thought it was a good opportunity to throw a new review up on the site.

Demolition Man

Demolition Man is about a cop named John Spartan (Stallone). I love that his last name is Spartan by the way. He’s basically a one man wrecking crew. I couldn’t tell you what his official title or rank is, but basically, when the shit hits the fan, he’s the guy they call.

In Demolition Man, society has finally turned into a cesspool. At least Los Angeles has, they don’t mention the rest of the country. Whole sections of it have been turned into a haven for criminal activity. Regular people don’t live there and the cops generally avoid going there, unless they have a really good reason. When a bus full of tourists is taken  hostage by a man named Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), they are forced to get involved. When they can’t get the job done, they send in the Demolition Man!

In a future filled with no shortage for bad guys, Phoenix is the worst. Imagine someone who craves violence and chaos as much as The Joker, but has skills too. Phoenix is not only crazy, he can fight too. He is a bad boy from top-to-bottom.  

Long story short, Spartan catches him, but not without some troubles of his own. Phoenix sets him up and ends up taking Spartan down with him. So what happens with criminals in this apocalyptic future? They are cryogenically frozen of course! With the prison system failing as a rehabilitation tool and being overcrowded to boot, there has been bold move to implement this new technology. Prisoners are frozen and then fed subliminal messages while in this hibernation in an attempt to reform them. These subliminal messages are a kind of a subconscious therapy.

Demolition Man

Fast-forward about 40 years and Phoenix finds a way to breakout during a parole hearing. The only problem is that in the time he has been hibernating, society has turned into a bunch of pansies. They have adopted a new philosophy that discourages violence, booze, salt, or anything else considered uncivilized. While it’s done wonders for cleaning up society, the only downside is that when faced with this situation, they have absolutely no idea what to do. So, their only option is to release the man who caught him in the first place and reinstate him as a police officer.
John Spartan’s reemergence into society makes for something of a culture clash. Spartan is rough, tough, and hands on. The cops of the future are anything but. Most of them find him to be boorish caveman, but tolerate his presence because frankly they’re too damn scared to do anything about Phoenix themselves.  His presence also provides some pretty funny moments too. Stallone does a fantastic job of making the character tough, likeable, and funny too.

The only cop willing to work with him is Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock). She is obsessed with the late 20th century and looks at Spartan as something of a real life action hero. The two of team up to find out just how Phoenix broke out and what he wants now that he’s free. Their misadventures make for all kinds of amusing scenarios. Stallone and Bullock have a very good Odd Couple thing going on here. Bullock is a wonderful comedic actress and this movie is no exception.

This is a very entertaining sci fi/action movie. It’s action-packed and really funny too. It is like a comic book come to life. I’m shocked it’s not based on a comic, because it looks and feels exactly like a comic book movie should. Stallone attempted something similar with Judge Dredd, but it failed miserably. Stallone is at his best here and Snipes (who arguably steals the show) is a worthy opponent. He’s so over-the-top, I love it. He’s insane, violent, but kind of funny too. He’s a true comic book villain. Bullock, Dennis Leary, Glen Shadix, Rob Schneider, and Benjamin Bratt (who is quite funny in this movie) are all hilarious in their supporting roles as well. It is definitely worth watching if you enjoy something that has good action, but is funny too. I know I do. This movie entertains me from start-to-finish.

Rating: Thumbs Up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 13, 2012. It was updated on July 24, 2013.