Film Review: Demolition Man – 8/10

‘We’re police officers! We’re not trained to handle this kind of violence!’

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The ’80s and ’90s were of course the peak time for action movie heroes. Ridiculous men with ridiculous names and ridiculous muscles. Arnold, Sylvester, Jean, Bruce and Wesley may not sound like men who are prone to firing an actual car into a helicopter but they are all goddamn capable of it.

As previously discussed, one of the things that made those movies so magical is the total lack of self awareness. It is often the scenes that are meant to be the most serious that actually inspire the biggest laughs. Demolition Man, released in 1994, comes towards the end of a wonderful run of action movies. By the mid ’90s, Hollywood had started to realise that people loved the kitsch factor and po-faced seriousness of action flicks and so they played up to it. As with Skynet, as soon as the world of action movies became self aware, it became forced and out of control. Something to be endured rather than enjoyed. The thing that marks Demolition Man out from its peers is that when it aims for funny, it actually is genuinely, laugh-out-loud funny. When Sandra Bullock enthusiastically trills ‘let’s lick some ass!’ in a haze of dystopian confusion, I actually creased up. Maybe you had to be there…

The ludicrously named Simon Phoenix (Snipes) and John Spartan (Stallone), are trapped in a seemingly never ending battle to the death that spans time, space and Stallone’s massive hair. Along for the ride are Sandra Bullock’s naive future cop Lenina Huxley, proper thesp Sir Nigel Hawthorne as the obligatory British villain and Rob Schneider because it was the ’90s. Bizarrely, comedian Dennis Leary even pops up as the heroic freedom fighter Edgar Friendly (no, really) and does a pretty good job.

While I loved watching Demolition Man again after all these years, it did make me a little sad. It’s a cliche and it’s edging into old man shouting at clouds territory but they really don’t make ’em like this any more. I’ve tried to watch a couple of Dwayne Johnson movies and while I love The Rock, they are just too knowing. Too many nods and winks to the camera. Or maybe I am just older. I’m going to go and sit in Pizza Hut with my nostalgia and have a little cry…

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