Demolition Man (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Marco Brambilla|
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Edited by||Stuart Baird|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Budget||$45 million–$77 million|
|Box office||$159.1 million|
Demolition Man is a 1993 American science fiction action film directed by Marco Brambilla in his directorial debut. The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. The film was released in the United States on October 8, 1993.
The film tells the story of two men: an evil crime lord and a risk-taking police officer. Cryogenically frozen in 1996, they are restored to life in the year 2032 to find mainstream society changed and all crime seemingly eliminated.
In 1996, psychopathic career criminal Simon Phoenix kidnaps a number of hostages, and takes refuge with his gang in an abandoned building. LAPD Sgt. John Spartan uses a thermal scan of the building; finding no trace of the hostages, he leads an unauthorized assault to capture Phoenix. Phoenix sets off a series of explosives that bring down the building, and the corpses of the hostages are found in the rubble; Phoenix claims Spartan knew about the hostages and attacked anyway. Both men are incarcerated in the city's new "California Cryo-Penitentiary", where they are cryogenically frozen and exposed to subliminal rehabilitation techniques.
In 2032, Phoenix is thawed for a parole hearing and he escapes. Lieutenant Lenina Huxley has Spartan thawed to help stop Phoenix. She explains to Spartan that San Angeles—a metropolis that combines the former Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara—is a peaceful utopia, and the police are no longer equipped to deal with violent crime. Spartan finds the new future depressing and oppressive: human behavior is tightly controlled, physical contact and swearing are illegal, and anything else deemed "bad" is also banned. Likewise, others on the police force find Spartan's behavior brutish and uncivilized.
Spartan anticipates that Phoenix will attempt to secure firearms. He and Huxley head to a museum and find Phoenix already there. Phoenix escapes with the weapons and encounters Dr. Raymond Cocteau, the evangelistic pseudo-pacifist who has been running San Angeles since the "Great Earthquake" of 2010. To his confusion, Phoenix finds that he is unable to shoot Cocteau, who reveals that he had orchestrated Phoenix's escape all along. As a safety measure, Cocteau implanted a command that prevents Phoenix from harming him. Cocteau wants Phoenix to assassinate Edgar Friendly, the leader of a resistance group called the Scraps that resists his rule.
Spartan and Huxley witness this exchange on security cameras and review the cryo-prison records. To their shock, they find that Phoenix's rehabilitation program has been replaced with combat training programs and the information necessary for his escape. Spartan meets with the Scraps in time to ward off an attack by Phoenix and other criminals who have been thawed out of cryo-sleep to help assassinate Friendly. Phoenix taunts Spartan, revealing that he had killed the 1996 hostages before setting off the bomb, meaning Spartan has spent 36 years in prison for no reason. Phoenix escapes, and Spartan arms himself with help from the Scraps
Phoenix returns to Dr. Cocteau with his men, and has one of them kill Cocteau. They go back to the cryo-prison and begin to thaw out more convicts. Spartan enters the prison alone to fight Phoenix, heavily damaging the facility in the process; he uses the cryogenic chemical to freeze and kill Phoenix. Spartan escapes the prison as it explodes. The police fear that the loss of Cocteau and the cryo-prison will end society as they know it, but Spartan suggests that they and the Scraps work together to combine the best aspects of order and personal freedom. He then kisses Huxley and the two go off together.
- Sylvester Stallone as Sergeant John Spartan. Originally Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were offered lead roles in the film, both however turned it down.
- Wesley Snipes as Simon Phoenix. The role of Phoenix was also offered to Jackie Chan, but he turned it down, not wanting to play a villainous character.
- Sandra Bullock as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley. Lori Petty was originally cast as Huxley but was replaced by, a then relatively unknown, Sandra Bullock after two days of filming due to what producer Joel Silver described as "creative differences". The character was named after Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, a character in Brave New World.
- Nigel Hawthorne as Doctor Raymond Cocteau
- Benjamin Bratt as Officer Alfredo Garcia
- Denis Leary as Edgar Friendly
- Bill Cobbs as Zachary Lamb
- Grand L. Bush as Young Zachary Lamb
- Bob Gunton as Chief George Earle
- Glenn Shadix as Associate Bob
- Trent Walker as Boggle Guard
- Troy Evans as James MacMillan
- David Patrick Kelly as Leon
- Steve Kahan as Captain Healy
- Andre Gregory as Warden William Smithers
- Mark Colson as Young Warden William Smithers
- Jack Black as Wasteland Scrap
- Jesse Ventura as Adam, Cryocon Ally
- Brandy Ledford as "Wrong number" video girl
- Rob Schneider as Erwin (uncredited)
- Adrienne Barbeau as Computer Voice (uncredited)
General Motors provided the production team with 18 concept vehicles, including the Ultralite. More than 20 fiberglass replicas of the Ultralite were produced to portray civilian and SAPD patrol vehicles in the film. After filming had completed, the remaining Ultralites were returned to Michigan as part of GM's concept vehicle fleet.
One of the film's focal points is Taco Bell being the sole surviving restaurant chain after "the franchise wars." Because Taco Bell does not hold a wide presence outside the U.S., the European version of the film substitutes it with Pizza Hut (another Yum! Brands chain), with lines re-dubbed and logos changed during post-production.
The film mentions Arnold Schwarzenegger having served as President of the United States, after a Constitutional amendment was passed allowing him to run for the office due to his popularity. Coincidentally, a day short of exactly ten years after the film's release, the California gubernatorial recall election was scheduled. The election saw Schwarzenegger actually begin a political career as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011. Shortly after he was elected, an "Arnold Amendment" did get proposed.
Hungarian science fiction writer István Nemere says that most of Demolition Man is based on his novel Holtak harca (Fight of the Dead), published in 1986. In the novel, a terrorist and his enemy, a counter-terrorism soldier, are cryogenically frozen and awakened in the 22nd century to find violence has been purged from society. Nemere claimed that a committee proved that 75% of the film is identical to the book. He chose not to initiate a lawsuit, as it would have been too expensive for him to hire a lawyer and fight against major Hollywood forces in the United States. He also claimed that Hollywood has plagiarized works of many Eastern European writers after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and that he knows the person he claims to be responsible for illegally selling his idea to the filmmakers.
The title theme is a heavier remix of the song originally recorded by Grace Jones and written by Sting during his time as frontman for The Police. The song was first released in March 1981, as an advance single from Jones's fifth album, Nightclubbing. Sting released an EP featuring this song and other live tracks, entitled Demolition Man.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 61% rating based on 38 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "A better-than-average sci-fi shoot-em-up with a satirical undercurrent, Demolition Man is bolstered by strong performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock." The film scored a 34/100 on Metacritic based on 9 reviews. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film fails to give actions fans what they desire, instead substituting out-of-place satirical commentary. Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "a significant artifact of our time or, at least, of this week". Richard Schickel of Time wrote, "Some sharp social satire is almost undermined by excessive explosions and careless casting."
Acclaim Entertainment and Virgin Interactive released Demolition Man on various home video game systems. The 16-bit versions were shooting games distributed by Acclaim. The 3DO version is a multi-genre game that incorporates Full Motion Video scenes, with both Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes reprising their roles as their characters in scenes that were filmed exclusively for the game.
In April 1994, Williams released a widebody pinball machine, Demolition Man based on the movie. It is designed by Dennis Nordman. The game features sound clips from the movie, as well as original speech by Stallone and Snipes. This game was part of WMS' SuperPin series (Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones, etc.).
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