The Alcatraz/Penal Colony: Los Angeles, which has been separated from the mainland US by a massive earthquake and is now a prison for those deemed "unfit" to live in the new theocratic America. A Great Wall is built along the shoreline and the United States Police Force is encamped along it preventing anyone from escaping back to the US.
Big Bad Ensemble: The American President is a religious fascist who turned his country into a police state and is willing to destroy entire countries if necessary to maintain his supremacy. Meanwhile, Cuervo Jones runs the largest gang in Los Angeles and has united Latin America under the Shining Path to invade the United States to get that power himself.
Big Blackout: The ending has this happening all over the world due to Snake. This is treated as a good thing as it allows humanity to restart.
Boring Yet Practical: Snake is given an array of weapons and gadgets going into LA. Among them is a simple box of matches, which Molloy tells him that he never knows when they may come in handy. He uses them twice: Once to destroy a car and the other to light up at the end of the film.
Crapsack World: Los Angeles, reduced to an lawless dog-eat-dog hellhole, is described by one of its residents as "the only free zone left in the world" and something of a dark paradise by Snake himself when compared to the police state of America and the rest of the world in general.
Deadly Game: Basketball becomes a life-or-death situation in this movie.
Deadpan Snarker: It's probably safe to say Snake's even more of a snarker in this one.
Delusions Of Grandeur: The President. During the climax, when he sentences his daughter to be executed, he corrupts one of the Bible's most recognized verses, putting himself in The Almighty's place (of course, given that he's President For Life of a theocratic dictatorship, it'd probably be surprising if he didn't develop a God complex).
President: "For he so loved his country, he gave his only seditious child."
Original Verse: "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son (...)" [John 3:16]
Dirty Coward: The President starts freaking out the second things go off-plan, and has to be snapped back to reality by his Dragons.
Evil Versus Evil: Really, the Shining Path and the US Government are absolutely no different in terms of how evil they are; both the President, a fascist fundamentalist, and Cuervo Jones, a vicious power-hungry terrorist, want the "Sword of Damocles" for their own evil purpose. And Snake, naturally, is trapped between 'em.
Exact Time to Failure: Subverted. Snake's watch reaches zero seconds after he demands the cure for the Plutoxin 7 virus. Luckily, it turns out that Plutoxin 7 is just a fast, hard-hitting case of the flu.
Fate Worse than Death: Deportation to LA is considered this, to the point that on-site executions are offered for those who would prefer death.
Forced Prize Fight: In a variation, Snake has to win a steel-cage basketball game in order to escape. The danger coming from the fact that if he misses a shot or lets time run out, he gets shot to pieces.
Hell: The opening narration refers to L.A. as an "island of the damned."
Hell-Bent for Leather: Snake's old worn out leather coat makes a return, until he trades up for a Badass Longcoat. In fact, during the opening incarceration shot, Snake's entire wardrobe makes a return since Russel informed Carpenter that he still had his original outfit from Escape from New York hanging in his closet.
Illegal Religion: The new extreme right-wing President who takes over the United States outlaws all religions other than Christianity as well as atheism. It is punishable by death through deportation to the hellish, crime-ridden Los Angeles Penitentiary Island. Taslima, one of the inhabitants, tells Snake that she was an American Muslim before she was shipped off to L.A.
Insistent Terminology / Do Not Call Me Paul: In both Escape from New York and Escape from LA, the U.S. government is on a Last Name Basis with protagonist Snake Plissken, to which he consistently replies, "Call me Snake". However, during the respective climaxes of both movies, when one of the government's men finally does call him Snake, he reverses his previous attitude with the reply "The name's Plissken".
In the Back: Subverted. A neo-Nazi skinhead attempts to throw a knife into Snake's back as he's walking away. Snake turns around and riddles him with bullets before continuing on his path.
It's All About Me: Snake cannot be persuaded to give a shit about anything but his own interests. Considering there is no particularly good side for him to be on, one can hardly blame him. This applies to the President, too.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Snake was more or less this since Escape from New York. However in this movie is a bit less anti-heroic as you would expect - it is shown when he spares The President's daughter's life when he had the order to kill her on sight. Although that may be equally due to Snake's utter contempt for the men who ordered him to do it.
MacGuffin: The controller, which activates the "Sword Of Damocles" defense system, an EMP cannon designed to destroy enemy nation's weaponry.
Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: The Shining Path has taken over all of Latin America and is about to launch an invasion of the United States. They want a bit more than Texas...
A Nazi by Any Other Name: The US President, a politician who takes advantage of a depressed, war-torn country to attain absolute power, and then proceeds to eliminate any and all "undesirables" from his new regime. He even uses the term, "Final Solution", near the end.
There's an unusual reason for this. "Escape from L.A." was in development for ten years w/ a script commissioned in 1985. But then the project was shelved until the Northridge earthquake & L.A. riots revived interest, & filming began in 1995. But the fact that a delayed-sequel about an '80s anti-hero was in theaters just after Independence Day was why it was a box office failure.
Not in This for Your Revolution: Snake absolutely despises the authorities who literally have to coerce him into working for them with a tailor-made "kill you in 10 hours" virus in his body or he'd just bail on them in a heartbeat.
The Purge: In the opening narration, it's stated that the President's first act is Directive 17 - Americans who are found "unfit" to live in the new, "moral" America are stripped of their citizenship, deported to L.A. and may never come back. Don't want to go to L.A.? There's always the electric chair.
Sacrificial Lamb: Taslima's character starts out by looking like Snake's potential love interest and moral guidance. Gets shot in the back quite suddenly for no particular reason other than showing just how bleak the future is.
Take a Third Option: Rather than side with a Fascist theocracy government or a Brutal Communist government, Snake shuts off the entire world.
Taking You with Me: Cuervo is about to shoot the chopper that Snake, Hershe, Eddie, and Utopia are escaping in with a rocket. He gets shot by Eddie but still manages to get the rocket off before dying.
The Theocracy: The President Evil turns the United States into a virtual theocracy. He makes Christianity mandatory country-wide and religious heterodoxy punishable by death, while enforcing a set of new moral laws for the 'new America'.
Those Wacky Nazis: When Snake is looking for the original soldier sent into Los Angeles to retrieve the Sword of Damocles, he runs into a bunch of Neo-Nazis using the guy's corpse for target practice. When they try to kill Snake over an insult he shoots one of them with his machine gun looking nearly bored.
The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped along the shoreline, making any escape from LA impossible.
Too Awesome to Use: Snake's revolvers. In the two scenes he demands them back (when being sent into L.A. and when escaping from the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills), he is carrying other guns (The Coreburner issued to him by the government and the Colt 1911 he takes from the Surgeon General), which he resorts to using first. Even after losing the Coreburner, he divests a mook of his shotgun and uses that. He only gets to use his revolvers once, showing off his Improbable Aiming Skills and loses them when captured.