Quite simply one of my favorite movies of all-time. I've seen it hundreds of times and continue to watch it weekly. Kurt Russell plays antihero Snake Plissken, captured criminal who has been sentenced to live the rest of his life out in Manhattan, which has become a walled prison where hardcore felons live the rest of their days in the world they have created. But the President of the U.S. (Donald Pleasence) has had a plane crash and been kidnapped by some of New York's most colorful felons, including the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes), Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and his hot squeeze Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau, running around in a slinky dress with her gloriously huge, round, sweaty boobs practically falling out of her flimsy top- damn, just once, I'd like to see a scene where the lead tart with such teasing glorious globes just lets them fall fully out of that top in a chase scene and fly free like the jiggling erection causers they are---including the hard nipples! Note to directors there. But it sure is fun watching those melons bounce throughout the proceedings, hoping to get a GLIMPSE of what we finally ogled in SWAMP THING ) Snake gets the opportunity for a full pardon if he can go in and rescue the President and get him (and a cassette tape) out in time for a nuclear summit. Lee Van Cleef plays Hauk, the top guy that oversees the Manhattan prison, who gives Snake this get out of jail opportunity. Hauk and Snake verbally spar and the tension is great, right to the end of the movie. Snake is such a great character because he doesn't give a shit about ANYTHING- politics, the summit, the government, the prisoners, not ANYTHING except his own survival. Once inside New York, Snake has 24 hours to get the Prez out, and from there on out, it's an expertly balanced action movie with such an array of awesome characters that there's too many to mention, some owning the day in just brief sequences. Snake teams up with Brain, Maggie, and Cabbie (played by Ernest Borgnine) and they try to rescue the Prez and get out of town. Everything converges in a grand smash-up of a chase across the 69th Street Bridge in Manhattan, where many of the characters get their comeuppances or worse. I'm not sure what makes this movie so great, but it's seriously one of John Carpenter's best, where he just mind-melded with the material and delivered magic in a bottle that can never be repeated. Is it the sardonic tone, the incredible production value (real sets- they used part of St. Louis, Missouri that had burned down in a fire for their main location), the glorious steadicam night photography by Dean Cundey, the natural lighting, the long lenses, the classic one-liners that never quit Clint Eastwood style, the characters, the incredible music score by Carpenter and Alan Howarth or is it those erection-inducing boob s that Maggie continually flaunts, even in the end where she's firing off a gun at the Duke? My how perfectly they recoil. Who knows, but it all counterbalances perfectly into one of the greatest movie experiences of all time for me that can be watched again and again and again! I didn't care for the recent Blu Ray transfer of the movie- images are too bright, the computer screen scenes are blurrier than ever, and a lot of Carpenter's "black seam" crawls (like the security wall early on) are extremely noticeable. The grainier MGM release remains my preferred way to watch this bad boy.