Escape from New York is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-scored and directed by John Carpenter. It stars Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton.
In a dystopian 1988, amidst total war against China and the Soviet Union, the United States government has turned Manhattan into a giant maximum-security prison to deal with a 400% increase in crime. A 50-foot (15 m) wall surrounds the island, bridges have been mined, rivers are patrolled by helicopters, and all prisoners are sentenced to life terms.
In 1997, while flying the President of the United States to a peace summit in Hartford, Connecticut, Air Force One is hijacked by a guerilla fighter of the “National Liberation Front”, named in reference to the Viet Cong. The President is given a tracking bracelet and is handcuffed to his briefcase before being escorted to an escape pod. The aircraft crashes but the pod survives.
The film’s storyline, set in the near-future world of 1997, concerns a crime-ridden United States, which has converted Manhattan Island in New York City into the country’s maximum-security prison. Air Force One is hijacked by insurgents and is deliberately crashed in New York City. Ex-soldier and current federal prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) is given just 24 hours to go in and rescue the President of the United States, after which, if successful, Snake will be pardoned.
The film was nominated for four Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film and Best Direction. The film became a cult classic.