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.
Escape 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.