Demolition Man (VHS, 1994)

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Sylvester Stallone Battles a Crazed Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man

Aug 25, 2008 (Updated Aug 29, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Interesting plot and decent cast.

Cons:Silly at times.

The Bottom Line: Demolition Man had some issues, but it still managed to be an entertaining action movie that is worth seeing.


Sylvester Stallone has made many action movies during his acting career, some better than others. I tend to enjoy many of his movies, even ones that some think are really bad. I recently watched Demolition Man again.

In 1996, Los Angeles was a very violent place and crime was out of control. John Spartan was a police officer who got arrests, but he didn’t always do things by the book. He was called Demolition Man because of the way he did his job. Simon Phoenix was a killer terrorizing the city. John managed to capture him, but he was also blamed for the deaths of Simon’s hostages. Both men were sentenced to the new cryo prison, a facility that used cryogenics to freeze the prisoners.

In 2032, Simon was thawed out for a parole hearing. He managed to escape and went on a killing spree in San Angeles while the police watched on video monitors with no clue what to do. Violent crime had been eliminated more than twenty years before, so the police were not equipped to deal with an actual killer like Simon who also seemed to know exactly how to get around and work things in the city. A decision was made to thaw out John since he was the cop who originally captured Simon. John was completely out of his element and baffled by things, like the three sea shells and his new desire to knit. Lt. Lenina Huxley, a police officer with a love of things from the former century, was assigned to work with John to try to keep in line.

Demolition Man started off in 1996, only three years into the future from 1993 when it was released. There were several things about that future that weren’t very appealing, like how violent it was. The majority of the movie took place in 2032. Things were very peaceful, but also very regulated. There was really no crime and the police were left with not much to do. Anything that wasn’t considered good for people, including sugar, caffeine and things like that, had been made illegal. There were censors that would charge people with violating the verbal morality statute when they used profanity. Prisoners were cryogenically frozen and “reprogrammed” while in suspended animation. If they were released, they would be experts at nonviolent things like knitting or cooking. Most people seemed very happy, but there were groups, like the one led by Edgar Friendly, that weren’t pleased with how things were going. The oldies radio station played old commercial jingles instead of actual songs. It was an interesting look at the future.

John was considered a very violent cop in 1996, which was why people were so quick to blame him and send him off to jail. He was very out of place once he was working with Lenina since the police used completely different techniques to deal with the few small crimes there were. Simon was one of the most violent criminals that John had gone after. Simon was even more violent after he was thawed out for his parole hearing and escaped. There was a lot of violence in the movie, though it wasn’t as graphic or as extreme as what has turned up in some other movies. There were several gunfights and explosions throughout the movie. Lenina and a few of the other cops in the future did learn new methods of dealing with violence. Most of the scenes that had violence in them also had a decent amount of action. The movie was rated R for the violence and language. It could be too violent for some viewers. This is not a movie that children should see. I think special effects were used for certain things, especially concerning what was shown with prisoners being frozen and unfrozen. I thought those scenes were done well.

There were small bits of humor added in throughout Demolition Man. Lenina was sort of obsessed with the past and had watched all sorts of old movies and television shows. She kept saying popular sayings, but she always messed them up just a little bit. That tended to make me laugh. I think everything connected to the three sea shells in the bathroom had to be the funniest thing in the movie. Something that was a bit funny at the time was how Lenina talked about the Schwarzenegger Presidential Library and how the Constitution was amended to allow for people born outside of the country to become President. That seems more like a prophecy now since Schwarzenegger has become the governor of California.

There were hints of a relationship developing between John and Lenina without having romance take over Demolition Man. At one point, they made love, or at least attempted to. Like many other things, sex had been regulated because of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. That resulted in actual contact, or fluid transfer as Lenina called it, being made illegal. Instead, people in 2032 used some sort of device placed on the head that stimulated certain parts of the brain. John was just as repulsed by that method as Lenina was at the thought of fluid transfer. It did make for an unusual sex scene that didn’t show much of anything.

John Spartan was a cop who got results, though he didn’t go by the book and tended to be a bit violent. That helped him get blamed for what happened to Simon’s hostages during the arrest. Once back in action in 2032, John was struggling to adjust to a very different world where the cops basically sat around watching video monitors. He still had the same tendencies, which caused him some problems. Sylvester Stallone handled the part well.

Simon was an extremely violent murder who was able to run wild in the future because the police simply weren’t equipped to deal with someone like him. He was a sadist killer who seemed even more violent after he managed to escape. Wesley Snipes did seem to go a bit overboard, but it did fit the character. His blonde hair did look weird and didn’t fit as well. Edgar was a man leading a group of rebels who weren’t happy with the way things were going even though the city was supposed to be perfect. Dennis Leary really didn’t have that much to do since Edgar wasn’t in a lot of the movie.

Lenina was the police officer assigned to work with John. She felt that life was boring and she longed for some kind of action. She got her wish when Simon started causing problems. She was obsessed with older things from John’s time, though she kept messing up certain sayings. Lenina did a pretty good job of taking care of herself. I thought Sandra Bullock did good with the part. This was one of her first roles in a bigger movie, and it led to some of her other roles.

Dr. Cocteau was the man credited with creating the perfect world of 2032. He pushed to get things outlawed and done only in certain ways. The man was very controlling, but most people adored him because they felt like he saved civilization. He was only around in a few scenes, so Nigel Hawthorne didn’t have as much to do as some of the others. Benjamin Bratt and Rob Schneider both had small roles as cops working with Lenina.

Main Cast

Benjamin Bratt - Alfredo Garcia
Sandra Bullock - Lenina Huxley
Nigel Hawthorne - Dr. Cocteau
Dennis Leary - Edgar
Wesley Snipes - Simon Phoenix
Sylvester Stallone - John Spartan

Marco Brambilla - Director

I first saw Demolition Man many years ago. I am thinking I rented it on VHS, but it possible that I saw it in the theater. I think it is available on DVD, but since I don’t have it, I have no idea what sort of extras are on it. The movie does turn up on different television stations. I recently watched it again on one of the HBO channels. It is edited when it turns up on some stations.

Demolition Man was a bit silly at times, but it was an entertaining action movie worth watching. It is a good choice for people in the mood for a mindless action movie. Fans of the cast may also enjoy it.

Sandra Bullock Movie Reviews
Miss Congeniality ~ Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous ~ Murder by Numbers ~ Practical Magic ~ Premonition ~ Two Weeks Notice ~ The Vanishing ~

Sylvester Stallone Movie Reviews
Antz ~ Cliffhanger ~ Judge Dredd ~ Oscar ~ Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot ~


Recommend this product? Yes


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