This sleekly packaged apocalyptic nightmare is a variant of the resurgent ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK formula, with the metropolis of the near future serving as one big maximum-security prison. For anyone who lives in an urban center these days, the concept isn't much of a stretch.
Rescued from the gas chamber, prisoner Ricks (Rick Rossovich) is granted a last-minute reprieve by General Wisnorski (Stacy Keach), the dictatorial chief of the LAPD. To secure his freedom, Ricks must penetrate the infamous crime zones of post-quake Los Angeles; he's charged with foiling an
extortion plot by arch-fiend Ironhead (Rick Dean), who threatens to infect the decent folk of greater LA with a deadly virus. If Ricks fails, Wisnorski's task force intends to nuke "New Crime City" with all its inhabitants, including Ricks. After coping with murderous gangleaders and an assault by
unfriendly mental patients, Ricks pools resources with hard-bitten Darla (Sherrie Rose), the ex-main squeeze of Juice (Ramsay Ross). In an arena that combines the ambiance of a heavy metal concert with the colosseum of ancient Rome, Ricks turns gladiator and defeats Juice with his own electricity.
Rick and Darla take refuge in the sanctuary of Brother Oswald (Ric Stoneback), but soon learn from Sister Maria (Cecica Bernusconi) that their benefactors are actually cannibals in league with Ironhead.
They escape and manage to get the drop on lab genius Wizard (Denis Forest), who's developed an antidote to his own artificial virus; this vaccine could save LA if placed in the water supply. En route to Gates Tower, where Ironhead plans to unleash the virus, Ricks survives a car crash.
Meanwhile, Ironhead shoots Wizard and drinks what he believes is the anti-viral drug; he's been duped, however, and he shortly expires from an overdose of the virus. At Gates Tower, Ricks races to disarm the bomb. What he doesn't know is that Wisnorski plans to retrieve the deadly virus as a means
of extorting power from Los Angeles politicos. He also intends to detonate the warhead, eliminating New Crime City and its drainage on the taxpayers' money; Ricks was never anything more than an expendable patsy. Ricks appears to surrender to the General's wishes, but offers him a mega-viral
cocktail in place of the antidote, nullifying Wisnorski's scheme and saving LA.
NEW CRIME CITY: LOS ANGELES 2020 has the good sense to hook viewers at the outset with a dramatic device (the apparent execution of our hero) that establishes a life-or-death urgency, illuminates the protagonist's formidable survival instinct, and nails the villain's ruthlessness, all in one
fell swoop. This sharply scripted film takes care of the essentials first. Because its characters are motivated in intriguing and plausible ways, the film is able to straddle two genres; it's equally effective as race-against-the-clock thriller and as bare-knuckles action pic. Too many adventure
films wear out audiences with repetitious, ultimately tedious cliffhangers, but NEW CRIME CITY successfully raises the stakes with each crisis. Several of these near-miss escapades manage to be scary and funny at the same time, notably an electrifying update of the "American Gladiators"
trash-sport TV series.
Underlying the action is a wry satirical subtext, surprisingly sophisticated for a straight-to-video pic. NEW CRIME CITY archly heightens the reality of contemporary Southern California, where the white middle-class has fled to the suburbs with their tax-dollars, leaving the inner city to a
desperate underclass and an increasingly repressive police force ("Gates Tower" is presumably a monument to the notoriously reactionary LA police chief, Daryl Gates). But the social commentary is never obtrusive, and NEW CRIME CITY rarely falters in satisfying action fans' lust for adventure while
exercising their brain cells and engaging their emotions as well. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: This sleekly packaged apocalyptic nightmare is a variant of the resurgent ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK formula, with the metropolis of the near future serving as one big maximum-security prison. For anyone who lives in an urban center these days, the concept isn't… (more)