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Headscratchers: Escape from New York
  • Why does the Duke want to leave the city? He's a local warlord who literally has everyone practically worshiping him. Getting amnesty and returning to the mainland would certainly just make him another random criminal.
    • Because warlord or not, he's still in prison. And a pretty shitty, post-apocalyptic war-zone prison at that. Is it really that mysterious why he possibly might not like it there very much and might just want to get out of there? Most prisoners don't actually like being in prison no matter how much power they manage to accumulate while inside, that's kind of the whole point of prison.
    • And plus, if he should happen to get out, he's still the warlord who managed to completely rule the inside of the most terrifying prison in this society before breaking out of it. If nothing else, that gives him a reputation as being a pretty damn tough and terrifying criminal to begin with; that already makes him far more than just another random criminal. I mean look at it this way — if Al Capone had managed to break out of prison, he'd still have been Al Capone.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Snake is given a 24-hour time limit to retrieve the President. Going by the time frame the movie implies, he would have landed in New York very early in the morning (12 a.m.-6 a.m.). He tries to get the President, gets captured by the Duke and is knocked unconscious. A few scenes later in the film, it is now daybreak; the briefcase the President was holding was retrieved by the military, who flew in by helicopter. When Snake defeats the brute, escapes the Duke and goes to retrieve the President, it is now night time. How long was Snake out for?
    • It's reasonable to assume the total time (not the 24-hour elapsed time in the film) that Snake spends finding the President and escaping would be anywhere between 4-8 hours. Even with Snake's capture, the escape could have happened during the day. It's assumed the second nightfall and race against the clock are in there for dramatic effect.
  • Why didn't the government have a backup copy of that tape? Why was it even a fracking audio tape in the first place, why wasn't it written down?
    • Because of the no backups rule.
    • Look at the year the movie was made, magnetic storage was all the rage back then, a single cassette tape could hold way much more data and be more portable than say, a hard drive. There were no gigabytes back then, solid state storage was light years away, flash memory hadn't been invented yet either; and it would had been ridiculous to store important prototype data in a floppy disk that was more prone to get damaged/accidentally erased. A tape was cutting-edge technology at the time; and they didn't have the notion, nor could they imagine that just ten years down the road, people would have computers 50 times more powerful literally in the palm of their hands.
      • While it's true that cassette tapes were once used as digital storage media, Snake plays part of the president's tape in the cab and it's just some guy (arguably a scientist) talking.
      • It's possible that the tape wasn't the only copy, just the copy the President was bringing to the peace conference.
      • No, Snake even suggests they get a new president and forget about that one. They say they need this guy and his briefcase. It's not like they couldn't send the VP instead. Also, this troper was under the impression that it was an invention of some sort of clean power generation (possibly, cold fusion) that would help ease the world's problems.
      • I think it was a superbomb. What we hear of the scientest talking is that an isotope iodine is far more effective than Tritium at... something, and Tritium is used as the equivalent of an accelerant to a nuke. It was probably saying that the aforementioned iodine isotope makes a nuke go boom much, much bigger than tritium does.
      • Then why reveal the secret to the world? Why not hold on to it to maintain superiority?
      • They specifically state it's for nuclear fusion, and considering it is a peace summit it is obviously meant to be used as a power source.
      • The impression I got was that revealing it was intended as a threat: we've got the capability for a new and improved H-bomb; make peace with us now or else....
  • Why didn't they eject the President before even reaching New York, and save themselves a lot of trouble? (Apart from the obvious reason...)
    • Too Dumb to Live.
    • I assumed offscreen storytelling. One of the members of Secret Service mentions they're not able to get past the door to the cockpit in time (before they crash). I assume the terrorist group that hijacked the plane put up a fight before hand. By the time they were beaten it was too late.
    • Because the plane was approaching over the water, and the President would have drowned.
    • It's not an escape pod; it's a survival pod. It doesn't eject from the plane. It just protects the occupant so that he survives the crash.
  • Why does the President of the United States have a clear British accent?
    • It is possible that the child of a diplomat could fulfill all the Constitutional requirements (natural born citizen, fourteen-year permanent resident, over 35) and still have a foreign accent, due to having been raised outside the U.S. during their accent-formative years, ages 10-17.
    • It doesn't matter where he's raised, just who he's raised by. One of my high school friends spoke with a distinct British accent, despite having been born and raised in the U.S. Both of her parents were immigrants from the U.K., and she got the accent from them. (For that matter, most people say I have a midwestern U.S. accent, even though I have spent my entire life in the South. This is probably because my mother was born in Kansas City.)
    • Because he's evil. Duh.
    • Evidently Donald Pleasence came up with a background story for his character explaining this, but John Carpenter nixed the idea of including it in the film. I would have liked to hear it..
      • As would I. As for myself, I think of him as probably having had the accent for the same reason as General Zevo in Toys: that his parents paid to send him to an expensive, top notch military school where he was taught a "proper" English accent (quite possibly by English people, and even in England), and he never really was able to shake the voice convincingly in later years, so he learned to just go ahead and talk with it lest he sound like he was just affecting the accent of his own native country, which would be worse than sounding like he was just from another country. Pleasance's character does seem like he probably comes from a pampered background and it helps to remember that most American presidents do have some former military experience so probably some of them went to military school.
    • For all we know, the film's historical timeline diverges so much from ours that the UK suffered disasters of its own, its government collapsed, and whatever was left was annexed by the United States. It's a weird freakin' future.
      • More to the point, they could have simply amended the Constitution so that you no longer have to be a natural-born citizen to be president.
  • First off, why the hell would air force 1 fly over the most dangerous maximum security prison in the world? Second, if these hijakers were smart, they wouldn't of just revealed what the hell they were doing over the mainland, they would do it over the sea.
    • Well, as Air Force One was hijacked, we can assume that it wasn't supposed to fly over Manhattan but the hijackers diverted it there once they'd gained control. Witness how shocked Hauk et al are that Air Force One is in their airspace.
    • I get the feeling from the rant that the female hijacker announces over the radio and the overall way that everyone else on the plane is acting that the hijacking was more of a murder-suicide mission than a kidnapping; "Let's make a statement by hijacking Air Force One and crashing it into the largest and most dangerous prison in the world, thus killing the President in the most prominent symbol of his oppressive neo-fascist government!" being the most likely form of logic used by the terrorists. Revealing what they're doing just before they crash allows them to make the statement whilst minimizing the opportunities for the authorities to somehow intervene and stop them. As for location, the plane probably wasn't supposed to be anywhere near the prison airspace, but the terrorists diverted it there.
  • Take a VERY large city with the most prime real estate in the world, then just lock it off as a maximum security prison, wasting billions of dollars worth of buildings and infrastructure. Riiiiiight.... Then do it on the other side of the country a few years later. What, does this alternate-reality culture found cities just to turn them into prisons some day?
    • It is stated in-movie that the renegades/original inmates were so dangerous that it was easier to lock Manhattan and barricade it, than to spend money building a large enough facility to contain them, after arresting them and transport them of course. Think of a 9-11 scenario where the terrorists (conspiracy theory aside) manage to press the attack and seize the city or a large portion of it. The movie's government literally told the population to go screw themselves and every man for himself. About the state value, what good is it if it's crime ridden and unchecked?
      • Furthermore, the Novelization delves even deeper: The United States was hit with a massive nerve gas attack by the Soviet Union, and New York was hit especially hard. As a result, it was subsequently declared uninhabitable, and the government decided to turn it into a prison.
    • Also, Escape from L.A. *doesn't* happen a few years later. It's more of a remake. The two stories don't co-incide in the same timeline, they're alternate versions of each other.
      • For the sequel, California suffers "The Big One", an earthquake so vicious that it effectively turns California into a new island, and everybody is left for dead. Also remember that in this new reality, USA is no longer the most powerful nation of the world, and the whole planet is depicted as a chaotic place to live in anyways; there are no help funds, the UN either doesnt exist or its just another bureaucratic figurehead with little power and influence; why would the US bother to save California in the first place?
      • How do you figure? Despite Snake wearing the same clothes and all, it's supposed to be 16 years after EFNY. Cuervo Jones explicitly mentions Snake having "escaped from New York." But considering that's it's almost the same movie, with most of the same situations and plot points, it's not an unreasonable position to take.
      • Actually it is an unreasonable position to take, as they are clearly in the same timeline. They mention his previous mission several times in the movie. They even reference his switcheroo at the ending. To claim they are two separate timelines you have to ignore the ample evidence that they aren't, which just makes it a dumb excuse used by those who didn't actually like the sequel.
    • Considering that in Escape from L.A. the president had basically run on a platform of prophesying the destruction of LA, saying the city was an example of everything wrong with America. When his prediction proved true and he won, it would only be natural to take the opportunity to declare LA no longer part of the country, now that it physically wasn't anyway. No point rebuilding someplace you campaigned on hating after all. Also LA wasn't exactly a prison. People could leave if they wanted to - they just couldn't go back to America.
      • Umm, Alaska and Hawaii aren't physically connected to mainland US, but they're still states. And why would the Congress and the states ratify a Constitutional amendment to turn America into a fundamentalist dictatorship? As far as the guy predicting the earthquake, there are people standing on the streets screaming the end of the world is nigh. He just got lucky. Or caused it in the first place. They do have EMP Kill Sats, so why not something that cause an earthquake? Religious fanatics aren't exactly known for their concern for their fellow man.
    • Sort of a Society Marches On: Manhattan was a crime-ridden hellhole and rapidly falling into complete anarchy at the time the movie was released, as were the other boroughs. Everyone who could afford to had moved out into suburbs. It was entirely plausible to audiences of the day that things really could get this bad (also see The Warriors), and the idea that ten years later New York would completely turn around and retake the title of a financial and cultural center of the world was fairly preposterous to most.
    • In addition to the above, it's part of the satire of the movies; Carpenter's using the sci-fi conceit of the films to in part make a comment on the world he was living in, which as others said was one where political corruption and extremism, increasing crime levels, urban gang warfare and ghettoization were major concerns, both in New York (the late seventies / early eighties) and Los Angeles (the nineties). The prison / sealed off from the mainland scenarios are conceits that enable Carpenter to show what happens when you turn these problems Up to Eleven. Another reason is, essentially, Rule of Cool.
  • Premarital sex is illegal, according to Escape from L.A.. So... Do boatloads of teenagers go to jail in this version of the US for doing something that's perfectly natural? Or does everybody buy the government's abstinence program? As far as no smoking, drinking, or red meat-eating, that just means a bigger black market for this stuff. Apparently, Prohibition hasn't taught anyone anything.
    • Premarital sex isn't illegal UNTIL Escape From LA as clearly shown in that film (the plethora of moral laws weren't put in place until the US became basically a theocracy under the new President). To answer your question, yes, boatloads of teens get arrested and deported as you can see in the beginning of Escape From LA.
    • And let's be honest, here; fundamentalist Christians, like most religious fanatics, aren't exactly known for letting logic get in the way of their ideology. Basically, God (according to them) wants this stuff banned, so it's banned. You don't like it, tough, you're a sinner and you're going to hell (and jail).
  • Could we blame Snake for the state of the world in the second film? After all, the President in the first film had a chance to make things better, only for Snake to screw it up.
    • I don't think that Snake can really be blamed. I think the blame falls on all the people who voted for the President in the second film.
    • Also, the President didn't care about the people who died getting him out. I doubt that someone so ungrateful could make things better.
    • The tape from the first film didn't contain the means to make the world better, it contained the means to make even bigger nukes and browbeat the rest of the world into submission.
      • No, it didn't. It is pretty obvious the tape held plans for a new power source. It is stated in the movie that the tape contains the secrets to nuclear fusion, the summit it is being shown at is a peace summit to end the war, and the ones at the summit are the biggest enemies of the US (enemies that that have killed millions of it's people). Why would the President share the plans for a new bomb to his country's biggest enemies (let alone do so at a PEACE summit), and how exactly could he hope to use said plans to control the rest of the world after handing them over to said enemies?
      • The tape didn't necessarily reveal how to build a super-fusion bomb; it could've merely been a report on how powerful the resulting explosions were. Presumably the plan was to have the tape played at the "peace" conference, then set off a test detonation in the Nevada desert so the Soviet and Chinese satellites could observe the blast and leave Moscow and Beijing crapping their pants. The tape was meant to clarify that, yes, that really was one bomb, not a bunch of them.
    • Even if we can, given Snake's fundamental character by that point, I'm not sure he'd give two solid fucks whether we blamed him or not, so in that sense it's irrelevant, really.
  • Am I the only one who thinks it was kind of a dick move on Snake's part to destroy the tape just because he didn't like the President's attitude? Yeah, he's a lying Jerkass, but he's also a politician; would you expect anything else? And of course there's the much bigger question of Was It Really Worth It? Hooray, we taught a selfish gasbag a lesson…and kept the world in a nuclear-induced Dark Age.
    • That's kind of the point; Snake's a cynical and nihilistic Anti-Hero who doesn't really care about anything except being left alone at this point. As far as he's concerned, the rest of the world can get fucked. No one ever said he was a nice, caring guy.
  • Why would the wall around Manhattan be built on the opposite shoreline, rather than at the edge of the island itself? By walling off part of the river, the government's forfeiting all use of the Hudson for shipping between New York State and the Atlantic.

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