Demolition Man

Demolition Man, a $70 million futuristic fantasy starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, gives in to the pods with no evidence of a battle. Call it the Frankenstein of action thrillers, since it's stitched together out of pieces from better movies. Stallone is John Spartan, a loose cannon at the LAPD (Lethal Weapon) with a bent for property destruction (Lethal Weapon 2). Snipes — sporting Dolph Lundgren hair — is Simon Phoenix, a villain with a flair for the martial arts (Under Siege). While chasing Phoenix in 1996, Spartan is involved in a building explosion (Die Hard) that kills 30 people. As punishment, cop and criminal are frozen cryonically (Universal Soldier) for later rehab.

Move ahead 36 years to 21st-century Los Angeles (Blade Runner). A naked Spartan (Sly as Ah-nuld in The Terminator) is awakened from his cryoprison (Aliens) to catch the escaped Phoenix. The world is ruled by a Big Brother (1984), who preaches peace (Star Trek VI) while stamping out free expression (Body Snatchers) and trying to crush the underground rebels (Total Recall).

If you can't figure out the rest, you haven't seen a movie in 10 years. Stallone and Snipes don't act; it's a testosterone contest. Debuting director Marco Brambilla betrays his origins in TV commercials. Demolition Man is sleek and empty as well as brutal and pointless. It feels computer engineered, untouched by human hands. A real pod movie.

From The Archives Issue 333: December 25, 1980