This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
The Demolition Man is a fun movie with a humorous premise and so it starts out of the gate really well. There are definitely some plot conveniences that make the story a little hard to actually believe but so long as you can get past that then you should have a good time here. Ultimately the movie just goes by really quickly with all of the fighting and fun banter going on throughout.
The film starts off with John cornering the notorious criminal Simon. Unfortunately while John takes Simon down, he was unable to find the hostages and then the government finds them among the wreckage. Thinking that John is responsible for this, they put him into a stasis sleep for 100 years while they will modify his behavior while he is in the tube so that he can be a nicer person. They do the same for Simon. Well, 36 years later Simon ends up being woken up early somehow and he even has all of the security codes needed to break out and begin causing a lot of mayhem across the state.
Here’s the problem, the state has grown rather lax over the years to the point where nobody even knows what violence is anymore. The state is in a utopia of sorts where everyone gets along and has a good time so of course there is no reason for people to know how to do anything with an actual crook. Everyone has been brainwashed to an intense degree. So with no other options the cops are forced to wake up John ahead of schedule as well. They warn him not to cause any trouble and John is already rather upset at being put into deep freeze after stopping the madman. At least he has one supporter in the cheerful cop known as Lenina. She is a big fan of the retro days and looks up to him as a hero of sorts who will save her from the boring status quo. Can he navigate through the future to save Simon?
Lets get my one main issue out of the way first. The timeskip was way too short. 36 years is not enough time for everyone to have completely forgotten about the old days. The way they talk about viewing old cassettes about the old days and talking about it as if they were myths, you’d think that it has been 100+ years at the very least. All of the dialogue supports this as well so it feels like maybe it was a last second decision to have the jump be only 36 years? At least that’s the way it feels to me because that number just makes no sense at all. Even on a purely government level because you can’t just change the way the whole government works on a dime like that. Now granted, the film is vague on if it’s the whole world or just the state which is like this. I like to think it’s just the state but of course if it’s the world then that makes this even harder to buy.
So this is the single biggest issue in the film on a logical standpoint because way too much happened in a short space of time. For the rest of the film just pretend this takes place like 100-200 years in the future at least and the whole thing flows much better. Trust me on that! The film also isn’t very violent and they show a good amount of discretion there. The most intense scene is probably someone losing their eye which was rather painful but it’s pretty tame beyond that.
As always we do have to force in a real quick romance out of nowhere which is one of the weaker elements here. The movie absolutely did not need a romance and it shows. They should have kept John and Lenina in a mentor/mentee kind of relationship which would work really well. You get some fun banter that way and then everything works out. I’m also skeptical about love turning into something completely virtual because inevitably people would not allow that to happen since it’s no fun. So here is a point where you have to assume that everyone is constantly being brainwashed or taken into the shop for repairs to keep them from thinking about things that go against the system. Yes this premise keeps failing more and more as you think about it.
Well, logic aside, it’s nice to see John show these guys just how out of touch they are. Simon was running rings around everyone because they couldn’t do anything to stop him and so John shows the world how to fight back like in the good ole days. The fight scenes are on point and John makes for a good main character. He’s always on top of things and knows how to handle any situation. John is quick on his feet and is certainly the only one who can hold his own with Simon. John gets annoyed at the government but he doesn’t use that as an excuse to let everyone fend for themselves. He still gets in there to do his best to protect everyone and that’s what you like to see. At the end of the day he is a hero after all.
Simon also works well as a villain. I like just how insane the guy he. He really makes the most of this new era and tends to have some of the best comedic dialogue here. He pokes a whole lot of fun at this pacifist future that tries to control him. When the most a future officer can do is tell him to stand down, then Simon knows he is in the clear. He can beat a whole army of these officers because they can’t fight at all and have probably never been to the gym a day in their lives. You’re not going to beat a super villain with that lack of effort. It’s just not going to happen and the whole time you are waiting for Simon to betray the other villains and just become the leader. He’s definitely not a follower and that’s clear even from just watching him for a few minutes. If Simon isn’t leading the charge then you know that he is absolutely planning something wild.
Of course part of the mystery here is in who freed Simon and what their plans are. All I can say is that the main villain isn’t all that engaging here. Simon is really the star on the antagonist side and the ringleader’s main draw is really just the whole twist of who he is and how he set up the pieces just right. Otherwise there just isn’t all that much to him. This is a film that is really just revolving around Simon, John, and Lenina. I suppose you have the police chief who is always complaining as well but he’s not that important in the end.
Lenina does well as John’s partner and you can always appreciate her enthusiasm. She is eager to get in there and make a difference which is more than I can say for most of the other characters. She may have trouble getting her history right but she tries hard and that dedication will serve her well here. She’s also the only officer to take shots at how relaxed everything is in the future as everyone else seems to have just come to accept this. She still has some freewill left.
Overall, Demolition Man is a pretty good film. The premise has a lot of potential for fun moments and the film capitalizes on this. A longer time jump would have solved all of the logic issues this film has but I guess they just didn’t think of that. If we ever get a remake or a sequel that’s the only change I would make. Beyond that this is a film that has aged well so if you check it out then I wager you would enjoy it. It’s a very classic kind of action film and one that always has a lot of replay value.
Sounds like the world has collectively and suddenly developed the memory of a goldfish. Because how else is 36 years practically ancient times to these people.
Definitely, that part made no sense. 36 years may be a long time if we’re talking about food collecting but for history that’s a drop in the bucket!
The movie has indeed held up quite well. Good review, Dreager1
Definitely this was a fun one, always nice to find a solid retro film