Monday, March 29, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
By the time he made The Getaway (1972), Steven McQueen was in desperate need of a commercially successful film. His last three were box office flops, especially his last one, Junior Bonner (1972). Incidentally, Sam Peckinpah, who directed both films, was also in a need of a hit and saw this project as a way to show Hollywood that he could make a box-office hit. In doing so, the director once again was forced to compromise his vision for someone else’s – in this case, McQueen who did everything in his power to make The Getaway his ticket back into the elite, A-list club of major Hollywood players.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Ryan keeps his life simple – he has no attachments. All he has is his work and that suits him just fine. During his travels he meets Alex (Vera Farmiga), a beautiful woman and fellow veteran business traveler. They have a fling and schedule another rendezvous as if they were penciling in an upcoming meeting. Ryan’s boss (Jason Bateman) assigns him a partner, a young woman by the name of Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) who has found a way to do his job cheaper and more efficiently. This is achieved by firing people remotely via video conferencing on a computer. This approach threatens Ryan’s entire way of life. While Natalie may have confidence and smarts, she lacks experience and so he is instructed to take her on the road and show her the ropes.
Monday, March 15, 2010
During the opening credits we see the rain-slicked streets of New York City through the back seat of a cop car. This sequence sets a nice, gritty tone and takes us on a mini-tour of the city where most of the film’s action takes place. However, Ruben Blades’ jarring song that plays on the soundtrack almost ruins it. I’m not quite sure what Lumet was thinking but it simply does not work here.
Lieutenant Mike Brennan (Nick Nolte) is a dirty cop as evident from his introduction where he ambushes an unarmed Latino drug dealer, blows the guy’s brains out and then bullies two nearby witnesses into saying that the man had a gun in his hand. Assistant District Attorney Al Reilly (Timothy Hutton) is assigned to the case. His boss tells him that the incident is a cut and dry one. He is told that Brennan is a good cop – a little rough in his methods but all of his cases have been tried successfully with no appeals. Reilly is instructed to collect the facts with the help of a stenographer and present them to a grand jury. His boss instructs him that “the Q & A defines what really happened. If it’s not the Q & A, it didn’t happen.”
Reilly is eager to please and is impressed with Brennan’s imposing presence and reputation. The young A.D.A. questions Roberto “Bobby Tex” Texador (Armand Assante), a drug dealer and racketeer, who, along with his wife Nancy (Jenny Lumet), witnessed the aftermath of the murder. He refutes the theory that the gun was found on the murder victim. Reilly begins to suspect that something might not be right with the case. He is also faced with a personal conflict as he used to be involved with Nancy and still has feelings for her. Reilly soon realizes that’s he’s taken on more than he can possibly handle. Sidney Lumet pits Brennan, Bobby Tex and Reilly against one another, each with their own agenda and the film gradually heads towards an inevitable confrontation between the three men.
Nick Nolte is a lot of fun to watch as a larger than life cop. He sports slicked back hair and a thick mustache that threatens to overtake his mouth. There’s a memorable scene early on where his character recounts a story to some other cops about how a mobster gave him a hard time when he tried to fingerprint him that is hilarious and disgusting. The scene has an authenticity of a veteran that delights in telling old war stories to inflate his own ego. Nolte’s Brennan is a chatty guy that loves to tell stories of past glories as he tries to buddy-up with Reilly until the A.D.A. lets him know that he’ll go after the veteran cop if he finds out he’s dirty. Nolte’s whole demeanor changes in a heartbeat and it is quite exciting to see him go from jovial to threatening in the span of a few seconds. Brennan is as corrupt as they get and enjoys the influence he exerts and the power he wields. He uses fear and intimidation to get what he wants. Nolte put on 40 pounds for the role because he felt that the character required it: “just the sheer mass of brutality. I felt that would be the right kind of thing. He had to be on the edge of his own dissipation.”
Armand Assante is a force of nature as Bobby Tex, portraying the crook with an aggressive swagger and an intensity that is impressively conveyed in his eyes. During Reilly’s initial questioning, Bobby oozes casual confidence and Assante does a great job of conveying it. He also imparts a keen intelligence. Bobby isn’t just some two-bit street punk. He doesn’t even blow his cool when Luis Guzman’s cop gets all in his face. Bobby matches his intensity and it is great to see two skilled character actors go at it. Assante ups his intensity when he warns Reilly to stay away from his wife. He gives the A.D.A. a seriously threatening look that would have most people shaking in their shoes. It’s Bobby’s first appearance in the film and Assante makes quite an impression.
Up against two lead actors playing colorful characters, Timothy Hutton wisely underplays Al Reilly. His character may be young and new to the job but he knows the law as demonstrated when questioning a mobster by the name of Pesch (Dominic Chianese) and his lawyer (Fyvush Finkel) in rather confident fashion. At first, it appears that the slick mob lawyer is going intimidate Reilly but the young man expertly turns the tables with his intelligence. Hutton is good as the straight arrow A.D.A. that decides to take on a highly respected cop and in the process uncovers an intricate web of corruption. The actor avoids stereotyping by showing layers to his character through the revelation of his feelings for Nancy which affects his approach to the case. Reilly starts off as an idealistic person but over the course of the film, as he’s exposed to corruption, he gains experience and becomes savvier when it comes to how things work. Early on in Q & A, there is a revealing conversation he has with Leo Bloomenfeld (Lee Richardson), a veteran attorney that has clearly been working in the system for far too many years. He’s jaded and tells the eager Reilly how things really are, giving him a taste of the corruption he will witness first hand later on. To prepare for the role, Hutton went on squad-car runs with police officers in Manhattan in order to get an idea of the challenges they face on the streets. He said of the experience, “in many cases the hands of the officer on the street are tied.”
Lumet shows how close these cops are by the short-hand between them and the familiarity they have with each other. In the scene where Reilly questions Brennan about the homicide in a room full of cops, the director really captures the camaraderie among these men. The dialogue sounds authentic and is delivered by the actors in a way that is so natural you believe that they are these characters. Consummate character actor Luis Guzman has a memorable role as a homicide detective that first suspects the Brennan case is rotten. He has a memorable moment where he jokingly defends Brennan’s casual racism: “He ain’t no racist. He hates everybody. He’s an equal opportunity hater.” Even though this is said in jest, in actuality it’s not far off the mark.
Q & A received mostly positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "It is fascinating the way this movie works so well as a police thriller on one level, while on other levels it probes feelings we may keep secret even from ourselves." Rolling Stone magazine’s Peter Travers wrote, "Lumet tries to cram too much in ... But he's onto something, and you can sense his excitement. This is Lumet's boldest film in years – a combustible drama with a vivid, shocking immediacy. The director is back at the top of his game.” The Washington Post’s Hal Hinson praised Nick Nolte's performance: "This actor doesn't flinch in the least from his character's unsavoriness; instead he seems to glory in his crumpled suits and unwashed hair, as if they were a kind of spiritual corollary. Nolte gives Brennan a kind of monumental brutishness – he makes him seem utterly indomitable.” In his review for the Globe and Mail, Rick Groen praised Armand Assante's performance: "in a role that could easily descend into cliche – the crook with a moral code – Assante does his best work to date, always keeping on the safe side of the stereotype.” Newsweek magazine’s David Ansen wrote, "Nolte, with a big paunch and a walrus mustache, is a truly dangerous presence here; he uses his threatening body and a high, strained voice to stunning, scary effect. Like the movie, Nolte really gets in your face and, for a long time afterwards, sticks in you craw.” Entertainment Weekly gave the film an “A-“ rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, “Q&A is a major film by one of our finest mainstream directors. As both a portrait of modern-day corruption and an act of sheer storytelling bravura, it is not to be missed."
However, in his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "great little scenes overshadow bigger, more important ones. Characters come and go at speed. Watching the movie is an entertaining ride, but when it's over it's difficult to remember where, exactly, one has been." USA Today gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "Overkill ultimately wears Q & A down, despite two bravura performances and some Hutton understatement that's adequate to the task. So, too, does unrelenting sordidness, a deadly love angle and a score (Ruben Blades) almost as awful as Cy Coleman’s sabotage of Lumet’s Family Business.”
One of the major themes Q & A wrestles with is racism. There is the casual kind between black, white and Latino cops and there’s the more damaging kind that resulted in the end of Reilly and Nancy’s relationship years ago. Racism informs a lot of the characters’ decisions and often motivates their actions. The film addresses racism in an honest way that you rarely see outside of a Spike Lee film. As he did with Prince of the City and later with Night Falls on Manhattan (1997), Lumet sheds light on how cops and crooks can be intricately linked and just how deep corruption runs in a sprawling metropolis like New York City. These films show how law and order works in fascinating detail and that feels authentic, much like the television show Law & Order does year in and year out.
Monday, March 8, 2010
In the 1980s, I was obsessed with the Vietnam War. My gateway drug, as it was for a lot of people I suspect, was Platoon (1986). After seeing Oliver Stone’s film, I wanted more information. I read all sorts of books about the subject, from fiction like Going After Cacciato, about a soldier who goes AWOL, to memoirs like Chickenhawk, about a helicopter pilot’s experiences during the war. Hell, I even read the TimeLife books, collected Marvel Comics’ groundbreaking series The ‘Nam and watched television shows like Tour of Duty and China Beach. This fascination extended to depictions of the fallout of the war – how it changed the people that came back, men that suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or from the effects of being subjected to Agent Orange while over there.
In the ‘80s, there were two excellent films that examined the lives of veterans after they returned home: the criminally underrated Robert De Niro/Ed Harris drama Jacknife (1989) and Norman Jewison’s In Country (1989). Jewison never wanted to make a film about the Vietnam War as it was a subject that he felt too strongly about – so much so that he left the United States in the 1970s because of it. However, he was drawn to Bobbie Ann Mason’s novel of the same name which had been published in 1985 and went on to become a best-seller. It told the story about a teenage girl named Samantha Hughes (Emily Lloyd) and her quest to learn more about her father who died in the Vietnam War through her uncle Emmett (Bruce Willis), an emotionally scarred veteran. The film was hyped as Bruce Willis’ first serious role where he finally dropped his wisecracking persona and really disappeared into a character. In Country received mixed reviews and was generally ignored by a moviegoing public that was still not ready to deal with the deep-rooted effects of the war. They chose to ignore it rather than deal with it as the characters in this film do.
Jewison does a good job creating a sense of place, like in the brief scenes where we see Sam jogging to “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen as she runs through her hometown of Hopewell, Kentucky. One gets the feeling that it’s the kind of small-town where not much happens and not much has changed over the years. We meet Sam as she graduates from high school. Her daily routine consists of jogging in the morning and then hanging out briefly with Emmett and his fellow vets at a local diner. Talking to them piques her curiosity about the Vietnam War. She wants to learn more but Emmett isn’t too forthcoming with details and neither are his friends. There is this unspoken bond between them about not to bring it up.
One day, while going through her mother’s (Joan Allen) closet of old clothes from the 1960s, Sam discovers a box of letters her father wrote to her mother while he was in Vietnam. Reading them gives Sam some insight into a man she never knew. In her quest to understand what her father, Emmett and the others went through over there, she has a one-night stand with Tom (John Terry), one of her uncle’s war buddies. From this, she gets intimate insight into how emotionally damaged these guys are.
The veterans dance that Sam and Emmett attend illustrates not just the tension that exists between the veterans and the town but between the vets themselves. For example, Emmett and two other vets get into an argument about whether the war was winnable or not. It eventually boils over into a brief fist fight and Emmett is forced to act as peacemaker. We see the intense bond that exists between these men, a shared painful experience that no one who wasn’t there would understand.
With his handlebar mustache and disheveled thinning hair, Bruce Willis looks nothing like what he usually does in films like Die Hard (1986) or T.V. shows like Moonlighting. He does a fantastic job showing Emmett’s deep-rooted problems, from little things like wearing a skirt around the house, to big things like the traumatizing effect a particularly violent thunderstorm has, causing him to experience terrible flashbacks of a firefight he survived in Vietnam. Willis delivers a powerful monologue about what it was like for him in Vietnam and how he survived over there, as well as how he still lives with the painful memories. In this scene, he conveys an astonishing vulnerability and does some of the best acting of his career. His excellent performance hinted at future dramatic roles and showed that he had range as an actor. For perhaps the first time, Willis wasn’t afraid to mess with his good looks in order to become a flawed character, warts and all.
When In Country was being cast, Willis was looking for a role that would challenge him. He had just done four-and-a-half years of playing the same character on Moonlighting and wanted to do something different. When Willis first agreed to do the role he was concerned about it because he didn’t know right away how he was going to play it. However, the subject matter struck a person chord with him because, as he said in an interview, “had things been a little different, or had I been a little older, this could have been my path.” During the war, Willis was actually drafted when he turned 18 but never saw action. Later on in the 1970s, he tended bar in New York City and would talk to veterans about their experiences in Vietnam. To help get into character and to prepare for the role, he gained 30 pounds. Willis spent four months making the film in Kentucky and said that it was the “kind of movie you travel along with and it leaves you wrenched out.”
It’s hard to believe that Emily Lloyd is British by birth judging from the authentic southern accent she sports throughout In Country. To prepare for the role, she stayed with a lawyer and his family in Paducah, Kentucky. Sam’s inquisitive nature and unflappable optimism comes in sharp contrast to Emmett’s jaded cynicism. At the heart of the film is the relationship between Sam and Emmett. Lloyd and Willis play well off each other and excellently portray two people who’ve known each other for a long time as evident in the verbal short hand between them and how they relate to one another. For the role of Sam, Jewison saw many American actresses between 16 and 22 but he kept coming back to Lloyd because, like her character, he found the actress, “bursting with life, almost manic in her energy.”
In Country was generally well-received by critics. Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars and wrote, "The movie is like a time bomb. You sit there, interested, absorbed, sometimes amused, sometimes moved, but wondering in the back of your mind what all of this is going to add up to. Then you find out.” The Globe and Mail’s Rick Groen praised Emily Lloyd’s performance for being “letter perfect – her accent impeccable and her energy immense.” Like Ebert, USA Today gave the film three out of four stars and praised Willis’ "subsidiary performance as Lloyd's reclusive guardian-uncle is admirably short on showboating.” In his review for The Guardian, Derek Malcolm praised Lloyd for her "portrait is of a lively waif who does not intend to be easily defeated by the comedy of life without adding a few jokes of her own, and it is the most complete thing she has so far done on the screen, good as she was in Wish You Were Here.” Time magazine was more mixed in its reaction as it felt that the script "perhaps pursues too many banal and inconsequential matters as it portrays teen life in a small town," but that "the film starts to gather force and direction when a dance, organized to honor the local Viet vets, works out awkwardly." Furthermore, its critic felt that the film was "a lovely, necessary little stitch in our torn time.”
However, The New York Times’ Caryn James criticized the "cheap and easy touches ... that reduce it to the shallowness of a television movie," and found James Horner’s score, "offensive and distracting.” Newsweek magazine’s David Ansen wrote, "While one can respect its lofty intentions, the movie doesn't seem to have any better sense than its high-school heroine of just what it's looking for. At once underdramatized and faintly stagy, it keeps promising revelations that never quite materialize.” Finally, her review for the Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote, "What's meant to be a cohesive family portrait, a suffering American microcosm, is a shambles of threads dangling and characters adrift. Jewison leaves it to stymied viewers to figure out the gist of it.”
Not much happens plot-wise but that’s okay because In Country’s narrative is driven by its characters. It is one of those slice-of-life films about a girl trying to figure out who her father was and understand what her uncle went through. The film is leisurely paced as it allows us to get to know these interesting characters and the world they inhabit. The dialogue is well-written and really sounds like the way people talk. It’s not showy but honest and heartfelt.
In Country helped satiate my obsession with the Vietnam War and helped bring me some closure as I related to Sam’s own interest in the subject and quest to understand it. By the film’s end, I felt like I understood it a bit more, much like Sam. The film’s emotional payoff comes at its conclusion when Sam and Emmett go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. As they walk past all the names engraved on this impressive monument, it’s hard not to be affected by it and I can only imagine what it must be like in person. Jewison described the place as “the most sacred shrine in America” and called it, “the Wailing Wall of America.” It’s a moving scene done with very little dialogue, just simple gestures that convey more than any fancy speech could, and this is as good a way as ever to end the film on a poignant note. Ultimately, In Country points out that the healing process is long overdue and as a country the United States needs to come to terms with the Vietnam War and finally embrace the people who fought in it, not just those that died over there but the ones that made it back and are still living with it every day of their lives.
Monday, March 1, 2010
The film’s premise is pure B-movie hokum. New York City is dominated by gangs that hail from the various boroughs. One man named Cyrus (Roger Hill) dreams of uniting all of these different groups into a 60,000-strong army that will run the city and answer to no one, not the police and not organized crime. To this end, he convinces representatives from 100 gangs to gather in Van Cortlandt Park. However, much like Malcolm X before him, Cyrus’ call for revolution is shattered when he is killed by an assassin, a grinning maniac named Luther (David Patrick Kelly) from the Rogues. With their leader missing in action thanks to the ensuing chaos, Swan (Michael Beck) takes over a gang known as the Warriors. They find themselves trapped in Manhattan, framed for Cyrus’ death. They must fight their way back to their turf on Coney Island and go through several territories of other gangs out for their blood. It’s a chase movie broken up by several exciting fight scenes and commented on by a late night disc jockey (Lynne Thigpen) like a Greek chorus as she spins tunes that offer clues for what awaits the Warriors next. It is this simple yet effective set-up that makes the film work so well.
The tension between the Warriors’ stoic war chief Swan and cocky gang member Ajax (James Remar) is nicely done and gives an edgy quality to their group dynamic. Swan is the archetypal Hill protagonist: a laconic man of action and of few words, much like Ryan O’Neal’s no-nonsense wheelman in The Driver (1978) and Michael Pare’s soldier of fortune in Streets of Fire (1984). With a few notable exceptions, the Warriors are a pretty indistinguishable lot. You’ve got the inexperienced guy, the not-so smart guy, the tough guy, etc. Only Michael Beck and James Remar really stand out and it’s no surprise that they were the two actors that went on to illustrious careers, especially Remar who has had a diverse career that includes Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and Sex and the City. That being said, the actors playing the rest of the Warriors do just enough to invest you in their plight so that you care about what happens to them.
Deborah Van Valkenburgh plays Mercy, a woman the Warriors cross paths with during their run-in with the Orphans. She is tough and oozes attitude and sexual appeal. She’s one of Hill’s quintessential smart, tough-talking women, like Amy Madigan’s soldier in Streets of Fire and Annette O’Toole’s long-suffering girlfriend to Nick Nolte’s cop in 48 Hrs (1982). There’s a telling scene near the end of the film where two couples get on the subway and sit across from a tired, disheveled and bruised Swan and Mercy. They are all roughly the same age but they couldn’t be more different. The two couples have just come from a prom and are a laughing and smiling while our badass heroes look exhausted but defiant having survived a tumultuous night.
The push and pull dynamic between Swan and Ajax enhances the relentless urgency that kicks in once the Warriors are on the run, fighting their way back home. Hill is only interested in constantly propelling the narrative forward as our heroes run the gauntlet of gangs. The closer they get, the tougher the gangs are that they have to face. And they are a colorful assortment, some are rather lame, like the Orphans whose uniform consists of nothing more than a plain t-shirt and blue jeans, and some look really cool, like the Baseball Furies, a bizarre-looking gang dressed up in Yankee pinstripes and oddly-colored face-paint. You would think that they would look ridiculous but there is something about them, maybe it’s their lack of speaking, that is creepy.
Hill directs the action sequences in a clean, straight-forward style so that there is never any confusion about who’s fighting who and where. He uses editing to help convey the kinetic action in these scenes so that they’re always exciting to watch. The film’s score features ominous electronic rock music comparable to what John Carpenter was also doing at the time (see Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween). The pulsating score matches the rhythm of the editing. The music also enhances the tough, street vibe as it chugs along much like the subway that runs through the city delivering our heroes to safety.
The genesis for The Warriors came about when producer Lawrence Gordon sent director Walter Hill the screenplay along with a copy of Sol Yurick’s novel. Hill was drawn to the “extreme narrative simplicity and stripped down quality of the script.” As written, it was a realistic take on street gangs but Hill was obsessed with comic books and wanted to divide the film into chapters and then have each chapter “come to life starting with a splash panel.” Gordon and Hill were originally planning to make a western but when the financing on the project fell through, they took The Warriors to Paramount Pictures because the studio was interested in making youth films at the time.
Gordon and Hill did extensive casting in New York City. Originally, in Yurick’s book there are no white characters but, according to the director, the studio did not want an all-black cast for “commercial reasons.” Hill had screened an independent film called Madman (1978) for Sigourney Weaver whom he ended up casting in Alien (1979). The film also featured Michael Beck as the male lead. Hill was so impressed by his performance in Madman that he cast Beck in The Warriors. In order to depict the many fights in the film realistically, Hill had stunt coordinator Craig R. Baxley put the cast through stunt school.
Hill shot the entire film in New York City with some interiors done at Astoria Studios. The shooting schedule consisted of shooting from sun down to sun up. It wasn’t the easiest shoot. For example, while shooting in the Bronx, bricks were tossed at the crew. One of the cast members remembered filming a scene on Avenue A being canceled because there was a double homicide nearby. For the big gang summit at the beginning of the film, Hill wanted real gang members in the scene and they also had off-duty police officers in the crowd so that there would be no trouble. Actual gang members wanted to challenge some of the cast members but were dealt with by production security. The production fell behind schedule and went over budget.
Originally, at the climactic Coney Island confrontation at the end of the film, David Patrick Kelly wanted to use two dead pigeons for his now famous line but Hill did not think they would work. Instead, Kelly used bottles and improvised his famous line, “Waaaaarriors, come out to plaaaaaay!” This came from a man the actor knew in downtown New York that would make fun of him.
Hill was unable to realize his comic book look due to the low budget and tight post-production schedule because of a fixed release date in order to get it out in theaters before a rival gang picture called The Wanderers (1979). It opened on February 9, 1979 without advance screenings or a decent promotional campaign. People tend to forget the notorious reputation the film had back in the day. The next weekend it was linked to accounts of vandalism and three killings – two in Southern California and one in Boston. As a result, Paramount removed ads from radio and television entirely and display ads in newspapers were reduced to the film's title, rating and participating theaters. In reaction, 200 theaters in the United States added security people to curb any potential trouble. In addition, theater owners were relieved of their contractual obligations if they did not want to show the film, and amazingly Paramount offered to pay costs for additional security and damages due to vandalism.
After things calmed down somewhat, the studio expanded the display ads to take advantage of reviews from reputable critics like The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, who gave it a rave review. She wrote, “The Warriors is a real moviemaker’s movie: it has in visual terms the kind of impact that ’Rock Around the Clock’ did behind the titles of Blackboard Jungle. The Warriors is like visual rock.” However, the film was panned by many critics. The Washington Post’s Gary Arnold felt that, "none of Hill's dynamism will save The Warriors from impressing most neutral observers as a ghastly folly.” In his review for Newsweek, David Ansen wrote, “another problem arises when the gang members open their mouths: their banal dialogue is jarringly at odds with Hill's hyperbolic visual scheme.” Time magazine’s Frank Rich wrote, “Unfortunately, sheer visual zip is not enough to carry the film; it drags from one scuffle to the next ... But The Warriors is not lively enough to be cheap fun or thoughtful enough to be serious". Yurick expressed his disappointment in the film version and speculated that it scared some people because "it appeals to the fear of a demonic uprising by lumpen youth", and appealed to many teenagers because it "hits a series of collective fantasies.”
I’m still on the fence about the comic book panel framing device imposed by Hill for the Ultimate Director’s Cut DVD. The new tweaks to the film are obvious right from the get-go as the director narrates an opening scrawl featuring parallels to some nonsense about what we are about to see with Greek mythology. Some of the scene transitions are now done in a more overt, comic book style a la panels featuring stylized frames from the film. I understand that this was Hill’s intention all along, acting as a homage to his love of comic books as a kid but it undercuts the nightmarish vibe of The Warriors that made it so powerful in the first place. This is glaringly apparent at the end when the triumphant Warriors stand on the beach at Coney Island as Joe Walsh’s “In the City” plays and the stylized comic book panel motif ruins the poignancy of the moment.
The Warriors is set almost entirely at night and presents the city as a dark, foreboding labyrinth fraught with danger that lurks around every corner and in every alley as the Warriors not only evade the cops but also rival gangs that hold them responsible for killing Cyrus. John Carpenter would take this dystopic vision to the next logical level with Escape from New York (1981) by re-imagining the city as a walled-in prison guarded by an army. Even though Hill claims this to be a comic book-like film, it really doesn’t feel or look like one despite his recent tinkering. The gritty setting, the ominous music and the constant danger that our heroes are in doesn’t evoke a comic book vibe at all. And this is what fans of The Warriors like about it.