Despite being an entertaining dystopian action film, Escape From New York feels like a missed opportunity. Though it has a pointed social context, it remains somewhat lackadaisically paced and awkwardly told, as if Carpenter had too many ideas in this case; the pure, efficient tension of The Thing or Halloween is nowhere to be seen here. Then again, this is perhaps his most visually extravagant picture, and the concept alone – near-future Manhattan turned into a maximum security prison – is enough to sustain interest. On top of that, the cast is brilliant, from a sneering Kurt Russell to a stern Lee Van Cleef to the ever classy presence of both Donald Pleasence and Harry Dean Stanton. Despite all this, Escape From New York remains simply a very good film rather than a great one, but I won’t begrudge it that.