Demolition Man (1993)


In the future, essentially, we’re all going to be a bunch of rich hippies. Tell me something I don’t already know!

It is the year 1996, John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is the LAPD sergeant that always gets the job done and solves crime because he has a pride for it. However, the only obstacle crime he can’t solve are the ones committed by known criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). However, on one fateful night, Spartan gets Phoenix cornered and ready for jail, until Spartan realizes that he accidentally just killed innocent hostages by doing so in the process. Though Phoenix is jailed for all of the bad things he’s done, Spartan is somehow thrown in the slammer with him, but since this is supposed to be “the future”, a simple “doing time” wouldn’t sit well with the powers that be. Nope, instead, both men are cryogenically frozen until their parole date comes up. When it finally does, some 30 years later, the men awaken to a world that’s full of sweet, sensitive people that don’t believe in the act of violence, cursing or wiping their rumps with actual paper. This is, essentially, the perfect world for Phoenix to raise all sorts of hell in, whereas for Spartan, he has a bit of trouble getting use to the calm way of handling things, even when it comes down to getting his man: PHOENIX!!

With mostly all of Sly Stallone’s flicks, you expect sure stupidity, but you also expect there to be a lot of fun thrown into the equation. Because surely, you can’t just have a movie that’s plain, old stupid, without it at least being a little fun as well, can you? I don’t think so, but that’s just me. Anyway, what I think what separates this flick from the many other, Sly-vehicles, is that there’s something “more enjoyable” to this material that makes it worth the while, even if you aren’t getting non-stop thrills and action.

"I'm yo cracka's nightmare!"
“I’m yo cracka’s nightmare!”

See, what works so well with this movie is that despite it being totally advertised as, and starting off as a full-on rated-R, action-thriller, the movie’s more of a satirical comedy on what our future would look like, had society had enough of all the nonsensical violence and inappropriateness that plagued our culture right around the early-to-mid 90’s. Can’t say that it’s really halted either, but that’s another discussion for another site. This is all about movies and reviews after all, so let’s get on with it!

Even though I was quick enough to actually call this a “satirical comedy” that doesn’t mean it’s smart in any way either. It’s a dumb movie, but has a bit more of an edge to it that has it be more than just a time-killer at the movies. It features funny moments in which the writers actually thought of something clever to use or say, in order to get a rise out of the audience, and it allows us to play around in our heads, whether or not a future like this would ever happen in a world/society such as ours? It’s strange to think that these are the types of ideas you could have rambling around in your mind during a Sly Stallone flick, but that’s what happens when you put more effort into your work, rather than just making it another “pay-day” job, done for the sake that you have cover for your hot-tub.

That said, don’t get me wrong, this movie is as silly as you can get with a Sly movie, and features all of the same type of action we know, and for some, love to see come from one of this guys’ movies. It’s over-the-top, campy, unbelievable, and breaks more laws of physics than it should, but that’s the point of this movie, even when the action’s not on the screen. Even then, the movie still seems to place its motives in the act of entertaining us, have us laugh and make us feel like we’re watching a movie that’s worth the trip, no matter how long or excessive it may seem. Which yes, it is excessive and rather long for its type, but it still worked well enough in holding my interest the way an action-flick of its very nature should.

But like I’ve been alluding to many, many times in this review: This is a Sly Stallone movie, and should not be taken seriously at all, and that’s mainly because he’s such a goof-ball to begin with. Sly’s skills as an actor may not be all that equipped with handling comedy well, but he’s able to poke some jokes at his own image, while also throwing some other, iconic action-stars under the bus as well. That “Schwarzenegger as president” joke? Pure hilarity, but only because of what we know as human-beings in the year 2013. 10 years ago, they probably weren’t laughing because it was almost too stupid, but nowadays, it was pretty damn close to happening. Whoever thought that Demolition Man would come close to predicting something in the future as ridiculous as the Terminator stepping into political office? Not me, that’s for sure.

"I am da law. Oh, different movie? Whatever, same premise."
“I am da law. Oh, different movie? Whatever, same premise.”

Sly’s good at pulling off this kind of material, and so is Wesley Snipes who is so over-the-top, that you have to begin to question just what the hell were in his Wheat Thins that he had before shooting? Seriously, the dude is total and complete bonkers, but rightfully so. The whole movie centers around him scaring the hell out of a every simple piece of white folk that he runs into, which is what Snipes does so perfectly and with so much energy and excitement that you just have to give him some credit, even though if he acted this way in another movie, it would be absolute torture to witness.

Same goes for Benjamin Bratt and Sandra Bullock who usually get on people’s nerves whenever they are seen in something nowadays, but were just getting their careers off the ground at, and around this time, making it a nice slice of history to see, or at least say you’ve seen. Bullock is as fun and vivacious as ever, and proves to be willing enough to play around with Sly and in ways, even bring out the best in his acting. Must have been a very rough challenge for an up-and-coming actress to attack, but it’s a challenge that she was up to, and not much has changed in the past 20 years or so. Good for her, probably not as good for Bratt, but hey, at least they both got the chance to bang one another for awhile thanks to this. And that has to account for something, right?

Consensus: While many will automatically see Demolition Man as another dumb action flick, it’s surprisingly more of a comedy, with a bit of a satirical edge that makes it more than just stupid fun, although I wouldn’t argue against those many who call it “dumb”, because it totally is, but there’s fun to be had in its dumbness.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

A series of bad career choices just await.
A series of bad career choices just await.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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33 comments

  1. Man, I fucking love this movie. To me, it’s one of the most underrated films ever made. I think it’s a lot smarter than people want it to believe and it’s also so goddamn funny. The monologue that Denis Leary gives is classic. “You know what I see the future is? It’s a 78-year old virgin singing ‘I’m an Oscar Meyer weiner'”.

  2. Love Demolition Man! I never really grasped how being frozen was any form of punishment, though. They took a 30 year nap, didn’t age, or have any long hours to think about what they’d done. I would go on a crimespree for the ages if those were my consequences, especially if we’re talking ’96. Spartan & Phoenix never had to endure Creed, Jessica Simpson or the boy band craze.

  3. Glad that you love Demolition Man as much as I do Dan. Totally silly and satirical in a way that you wouldn’t expect, but you’re right that it’s not smart. Stallone, like Arnold, at least has a sense of humor about the type of movies he’s in. My favorite character is Denis Leary’s freedom fighter Edgar Friendly. He cracks me up every time he’s on screen.

  4. Yup, this is a very fun movie. One quick note about the Schwarzenegger joke: when Demolition Man came out, it was seen as Sly taking a shot at his rival. The two were competing at the box office regularly to be the biggest action star in the world and didn’t seem to like each other very much. The fact that it became almost prophetic is icing on the cake. And I guess time, and fading careers, heals all wounds as now they’re making movies together. Great review!

  5. I’ve always considered Demolition Man as one of those movies that are so ridiculous that they are amazing. This film knew that it was just flat out wacky and unlike some other films lately that have tried to make sense out of it, this one embraces and makes fun of the world that it’s created. It’s one of my favorite action flicks of all time and I would put it as a purchase because it’s so worth watching every few months!

  6. Nice job! This… is not essential viewing, but it sure is fun for a dumb action pic.

    I do agree that the social satire sets this pic above so many others in Stallone’s CV. But the Prez Schwarzenegger joke isn’t jus funny by today’s standards – it fits right in to a candy-coated world wherein nobody seems to think too hard because everything’s “okay” now. In this future, Taco Bells are the only restaurants, Arnie was prez, and people don’t get it on physically because of a huge AIDS-like crisis. It’s both good humor and important to the tone and establishing this world.

    The funniest thing to me is still Snipes’ look for the role. All those day-glo colors he wears and the blond hair make him look like s cheap kids’ action figure – it’s like he popped right out of the Nickelodeon channel and I keep expecting someone to get a bucket of slime on their heads.

    • Great points! The future they created was one filled with some weird ideas, but it all made sense in the grander scheme of things, mainly because nobody cared. They just got soft, and somewhat lazy.

  7. I feel like I just read a review of this recently. I always remember the finale of death by nitrogen, ahah. I actually saw this on the big screen but yeah, it’s more of a rental I think.

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