Demolition Man is a 1993 American science fiction comedy action film directed by Marco Brambilla in his directorial debut. The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. The film was released in the United States on October 8, 1993.
The film tells the story of two men: an evil crime lord and a risk-taking police officer. Cryogenically frozen in 1996, they are restored to life in the year 2032 to find mainstream society changed and all crime seemingly eliminated.
In 1996, psychopathic career criminal Simon Phoenix kidnaps a number of hostages and takes refuge with his gang in an abandoned building. LAPD Sgt. John Spartan uses a thermal scan of the building; finding no trace of the hostages, he leads an unauthorized assault to capture Phoenix. Phoenix sets off a series of explosives that bring down the building and the corpses of the hostages are found in the rubble; Phoenix claims Spartan knew about the hostages and attacked anyway, leading to the arrest of Spartan for manslaughter. He is incarcerated along with Phoenix in the city's new "California Cryo-Penitentiary", where they are cryogenically frozen and exposed to subliminal rehabilitation techniques.
During their incarceration, the "Great Earthquake" of 2010 leads the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara to merge into a single metropolis under the name San Angeles. The city becomes a utopia run under the pseudo-pacifist guidance and control of the evangelistic Dr. Raymond Cocteau, where human behavior is tightly controlled. In 2032, Phoenix is thawed for a parole hearing; he somehow has access codes to the security systems and murders the warden and several guards, steals a car, and escapes the prison. The police, having not dealt with violent crime for many years, are unable to handle Phoenix; after six officers fail to apprehend Phoenix, Cocteau verbally authorizes the police to employ all means at their disposal. Lieutenant Lenina Huxley suggests that Spartan -having caught Phoenix before- be revived and reinstated to help them stop him again. Spartan is thawed and assigned to Huxley to help with his acclimation to the future, which he finds depressing and oppressive. Others on the police force find his behavior brutish and uncivilized, and Huxley, though fascinated by the lifestyles of the late 20th century, is disgusted when Spartan suggests kissing and sexual intercourse, acts which are taboo in the future due to the exchange of bodily fluids and risk of transmitting diseases.
The police chief remains skeptical of Spartan, and predicts, with the help of a computer algorithm, that Phoenix will attempt to establish a crime syndicate, which Spartan finds ludicrous. Spartan instead correctly anticipates that Phoenix will attempt to secure firearms, which by 2032 are only in museum exhibits. At a museum, Phoenix acquires weapons before Spartan arrives, having their first face-to-face confrontation in 36 years. Phoenix escapes and encounters Dr. Cocteau but finds he is unable to shoot him; Cocteau speaks to Phoenix about Edgar Friendly, the leader of a resistance group, 'the Scraps,' that rebel against Cocteau's rule. He allows Phoenix to bring other criminals out of cryo-sleep to help assassinate him. After seeing the exchange on security cameras, Spartan and Huxley review cryo-prison records and find that instead of an appropriate criminal rehabilitation program, Phoenix had been given combat training programs and the information necessary for his escape by Cocteau directly. Realizing he is after Friendly, they go off to warn him.
At the Scraps' underground base, Spartan convinces Friendly of the threat and takes sympathy in their cause given what he has seen above ground. Spartan and the Scraps ward off an attack by Phoenix's men, leading to a car chase between Spartan and Phoenix. Phoenix taunts Spartan by revealing that when they originally encountered each other in 1996, the hostages were already dead (killed by Phoenix), so Spartan spent 36 years in prison for no reason. Phoenix escapes, and Spartan arms himself with help from the Scraps.
Phoenix returns to Dr. Cocteau with his men, and as the rehabilitation programming prevents him from killing Cocteau, orders one of his gang to do so. They go back to the cryo-prison and begin to thaw out more convicts. Spartan enters the prison alone to fight Phoenix, heavily damaging the facility in the process; he uses the cryogenic chemical to freeze and kill Phoenix. Spartan escapes the prison as it explodes and regroups with the police and the Scraps. The police fear the loss of Cocteau and the cryo-prison will end society as they know it, but Spartan suggests that they and the Scraps work together to create a society which combines the best aspects of order and personal freedom. He then kisses Huxley (which she finds enjoyable) and the two go off together.
General Motors provided the production team with 18 concept vehicles, including the Ultralite. More than 20 fiberglass replicas of the Ultralite were produced to portray civilian and SAPD patrol vehicles in the film. After filming had completed, the remaining Ultralites were returned to Michigan as part of GM's concept vehicle fleet.
One of the film's focal points is Taco Bell being the sole surviving restaurant chain after "the franchise wars." Because Taco Bell does not hold a wide presence outside the U.S., the European version of the film substitutes it with Pizza Hut (another Yum! Brands chain), with lines re-dubbed and logos changed during post-production.
The film mentions Arnold Schwarzenegger having served as President of the United States, after a Constitutional amendment was passed allowing him to run for the office due to his popularity. Coincidentally, a day short of exactly ten years after the film's release, the California gubernatorial recall election was scheduled. The election saw Schwarzenegger actually begin a political career as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011. Shortly after he was elected, an "Arnold Amendment" did get proposed.
Hungarian science fiction writer István Nemere says that most of Demolition Man is based on his novel Holtak harca (Fight of the Dead), published in 1986. In the novel, a terrorist and his enemy, a counter-terrorism soldier, are cryogenically frozen and awakened in the 22nd century to find violence has been purged from society. Nemere claimed that a committee proved that 75% of the film is identical to the book. He chose not to initiate a lawsuit, as it would have been too expensive for him to hire a lawyer and fight against major Hollywood forces in the United States. He also claimed that Hollywood has plagiarized works of many Eastern European writers after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and that he knows the person he claims to be responsible for illegally selling his idea to the filmmakers.
The title theme is a heavier remix of the song originally recorded by Grace Jones and written by Sting during his time as frontman for The Police. The song was first released in March 1981, as an advance single from Jones's fifth album, Nightclubbing. Sting released an EP featuring this song and other live tracks, entitled Demolition Man.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 61% rating based on 38 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "A better-than-average sci-fi shoot-em-up with a satirical undercurrent, Demolition Man is bolstered by strong performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock." The film scored a 34/100 on Metacritic based on 9 reviews. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film fails to give actions fans what they desire, instead substituting out-of-place satirical commentary. Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "a significant artifact of our time or, at least, of this week". Richard Schickel of Time wrote, "Some sharp social satire is almost undermined by excessive explosions and careless casting."
Acclaim Entertainment and Virgin Interactive released Demolition Man on various home video game systems. The 16-bit versions were shooting games distributed by Acclaim. The 3DO version is a multi-genre game that incorporates Full Motion Video scenes, with both Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes reprising their roles as their characters in scenes that were filmed exclusively for the game.
In April 1994, Williams released a widebody pinball machine, Demolition Man based on the movie. It is designed by Dennis Nordman. The game features sound clips from the movie, as well as original speech by Stallone and Snipes. This game was part of WMS' SuperPin series (Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones, etc.).
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