Russell has a ball playing Snake Plissken, one of the coolest, grizzled anti-heroes ever to be put on film. He’s asked to rescue the President Of The United States after a flight is hijacked and he reluctantly agrees, not caring at all about the fate of the POTUS but won over by the thought of a full pardon. You see, Snake is a criminal and it will take a criminal to rescue the President because the President is being held in a prison by a bunch of degenerates who want out. The prison is New York itself, walled up many years ago and made inescapable – it’s the place where criminals go to rot.
The script, written by Carpenter and Nick Castle, is lean and cool throughout, with Plissken being more a man of action than words. The direction and cinematography is as great as you'd expect from Carpenter during this period in his career, with typically gorgeous work from Dean Cundey, and there's yet another of those classic synth scores accompanying the action - created by the director and Alan Howarth.
It may have been Carpenter's biggest budget at the time but the movie remains a great one to study for those wantting to learn about wringing the most from every dollar. Superb matte paintings, "wire-frame" images of a city created by white tape on a black model, a production design department making numerous trips to garbage landfill sites to scavenge junk they could use for props, every trick in the book was used to ensure that the money is onscreen and that the movie matches the vision of its director.