Kurt Russell, Sci-Fi Badass: We Salute You

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News of Hollywood rebooting some beloved property is hardly a rarity these days, but the word this week that the previously dead Escape from New York reboot has staggered back to life is more depressing than most. After all, Hollywood is constantly remaking stories that they got right the first time, but Escape from New York is a movie that succeeds primarily on the basis of its main character, Snake Plissken, and more specifically on the performance of that role by one Kurt Russell.

So, while Hollywood is greedily pawing through its own classics looking for ideas, we here at GFR are going to take a moment to metaphorically high-five Russell for his brilliant roles in several certified science fiction classics. You might be able to cast somebody else in these roles, but you sure as hell can’t replace him.

EFNYEscape from New York — Bob “Snake” Plissken (1981)
This, obviously, is the one that prompted this entire list. It’s not like Escape from New York‘s plot is particularly intricate. The idea of Manhattan becoming a walled prison complex is intriguing, but once that concept is introduced it’s all pretty straightforward: the President crashes on the island, a one-eyed badass is implanted with a bomb and sent in to rescue him. The fact that people still return to and love the movie all these years later is a testament to just how thoroughly Russell made the character of Plissken his own. Can you even fathom somebody else playing that role? Besides, we’ve already seen what happens when you remake Escape from New York without Kurt Russell. It was called Lockout…and it went about as well as you might expect. Russell as Plissken is one of those pairings between actor and material that simply can’t be improved upon. Not that that will stop Hollywood from trying.

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  • BebopHitchhiker

    SG and EFNY are two of my favorite Kurt Russell movies. But one movie that deserves at least a mention is Disney’s The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. His Dicney turns were what got him on the road to badassness.

    • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

      You’re dating yourself dude. I’m also old enough to remember seeing that one at the theater. Great fun!
      What a shock for me to see that and then ‘The Thing’ in ’82 and hear him use the word, FU__ right off the bat. Sobering.

  • TheJohnP

    And if you did a “worst list” then Snake Plissken in Escape from LA would have to top that honor.

  • http://technoangina.tumblr.com Technoangina

    Every word of this is entirely true. Kurt is just able to be that guy who is believable in the role, somebody that everyone could see themselves knowing, because he’s just barely larger than life. The guy who isn’t a hero because he is gifted, but because he makes the right choices when the choices are tough. Suffice to say Overboard couldn’t be on this list, but it’s yet another way to show his versatility.

  • Rob

    You forgot Soldier. Kurt plays an “over the hill” perfect, genetically engineered soldier who beats the new crop of replacements while uncovering his own humanity and does this all without saying a thing. It wasn’t the best movie, but it was Science Fiction and he is a bad ass in it!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jugaar Jordan Blake

      You are wrong sir. Soldier IS the best movie. I personally like it better than EFNY.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lord.o.time Paul Utry

    What about his role in Deathproof? Sure he played a bad guy, but he played it so _well_!