Demolition Man (1993)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some smart writing and strong visuals

Movie sometimes dips below its quality level

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Demolition Man

Studio:  Silver Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  October 8, 1993

MPAA Rating:  R


I’m smiling because I’m going to be a breakout star!

The year is 2032, and the world is a virtual utopia with no crime, disease, or murder.  When a serial killer from 1996 named Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) escapes the cryogenic criminal containment unit, the modern police force is unable to deal with him.  Officer John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), aka the Demolition Man, is thawed out to capture Phoenix.  Someone however has given Phoenix the means he needs to survive in the future along with specialized fighting training to make him even more deadly.  Now, Spartan is teamed with a young 20th Century obsessed cop named Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) and might just live up to his moniker in his effort to stop Phoenix.


I still can see Taco Bell serving this someday…

Directed by Marco Brambilla, Demolition Man is a sci-fi action adventure.  The film underwent a number of revisions throughout the casting including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Jackie Chan, and Lori Petty (who was replaced by Sandra Bullock shortly after the movie started filming).  The movie was a box office success but received mixed reviews from critics.

My first real job was Taco Bell, and Demolition Man had just been released when I started working there.  The restaurant chain had a unique promotion with the film that actually both praised and mocked the fast food giant.  With that context, I have some affinity for the movie that probably boosts it a bit higher in my opinion than it probably deserves.  The script does have a lot of smart aspects to it, but it also has a lot of jokes that are beneath it (and feel more in tune with a normal action film).


I hate all of you!

The movie has a solid set-up with two old-style action movie stars stuck in a perfect utopia that cannot defend itself.  I really wish that the script had done more with this and really played up the sci-fi nature of the movie instead of the action.  It is a modern Buck Rogers storyline, but also has the fun of old school villainy in the Phoenix character and his associates.  This really should have been the thrust of the film and when the movie does deal with this, it is at its best.

Stallone and Snipes are pretty much play their typical roles in the movie.  The movie really help propel Sandra Bullock to fame as Stallone’s earnest and fun loving sidekick.  Dennis Leary was also just becoming popular as an actor when this movie was released and among his “Scraps” is Jack Black in an early role.  The movie’s generic “corporate” villain was played by Nigel Hawthorne who allegedly did not get along with either Stallone or Snipes.  Other actors in the film include Bob Gunton, Benjamin Bratt, and Rob Schneider who went on to star with Stallone again in Judge Dredd (1995).


Mr. Freeze stole my gun!

Fortunately for Demolition Man, the movie is set up in a way that allows it to age well.  The hyper-real utopian future can look kind of fake and the movie doesn’t rely heavily on computer effects but instead sticks to classic explosions and gun play that made ’80s and ’90s action films what they are.  A lot of the humor is built in to the visuals like the ideas of the shells and of course the Taco Bell reference.

Demolition Man is one of the films that I always thought deserved a sequel.  I don’t understand why the movie didn’t get one due to its success, the potential, and the fact that many Stallone’s movies from the period don’t resonate like this film.  The movie has proved to have some holding power and a small following since its release.  I could see the Demolition Man someday returning to the screen in some form or another.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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