‘Demolition Man’ is the Movie That Tests the Future

Explosions, guns per voto, cool cars, dystopias, and rat burgers. This is all to expect in the movie from the past bringing out the future in Demolition Man.

Creative Commons

Explosions, guns per voto, cool cars, dystopias, and rat burgers. This is all to expect in the movie from the past bringing out the future in “Demolition Man.”

Connor Smith, Reporter

Picture this dear viewer: the vast future of the world in day-to-day California. Society and culture have changed beyond recognition, where a dystopia lies in a seemingly perfect utopia. Because of such advanced technology, daily problems and challenges are just so much easier to ignore. A place where laws force people to be nice to each other. Where free thinking and human aspects are carefully controlled so no one says otherwise. Or where power-hungry, shallow tyrants demean everyone behind a devious mask of compassion. Where aggression, ambition, willpower, free thinking and difference are seen as uncivilized and scrutinized. Anyone daring to go out of the social norms or expectations are ridiculed with superiority and righteousness only behind layers of ignorance and insecurity. This leaves behind a population of unfulfilled, weak, timid and docile weaklings in the wake. They are ashamed of their natural impulses, and they aren’t able to handle an ounce of hardship, adversity or tribulation. 

Anyway enough about today, let’s talk about the movie shall we. “Demolition Man” is a sci-fi action thriller movie released in 1993. It stars Sylvester Stallone as a renegade cop named John Spartan and Wesley Snipes as a ruthless, trigger-happy criminal looking to create chaos named Simon Phoenix. Now when it comes to pure ‘90s cinema, this movie is chock-full of overtop spectacle action and cool one liners that makes it as fun as watching the “Terminator” (1984). Not only is it fun to watch but it’s also amazingly written. Rightfully gaining the reputation of predicting the rise of modern day political correctness, overzealous censorship, the overbearing suppression of malicious governments, organizations hiding behind a thin layer of compassion and even zoom calls. It’s a movie that asks interesting questions about sacrificing your basic human needs and instincts to have personal security. Well just like Simon Phoenix said, let me “illuminate” you. 

The movie begins in 1996 where the terrorist known as Simon Phoenix has taken a bus load of people hostage and has them held up in his impenetrable fortress, with John Spartan being sent in to rectify the situation. But John Spartan has had a habit of blowing things up, giving him the name of “Demolition Man.” After defeating the whimsical Simon Phoenix and everything blowing up (as it should),it turns out the hostages were in the building and found dead. This places John under arrest and charged with murder, which is kind of weird when you think about it. Simon was the one who kidnapped them, rigged the place with explosives and was the one who triggered them. Meanwhile, John was the one who did everything to stop him. John is a highly decorated officer; surely they would take his word over an insane criminal lunatic. But whatever, the movie needs to happen. 

Both men are sent to a cryogenic prison to consciously reprogram them and remove their violent tendency. Flash forward 36 years and Simon is brought in for a parole hearing, only for Simon to somehow have access to the codes to release his restraints allowing him to kill the guards, escape, and cause havoc. The thing is, the world has very much changed with the ban of violent drugs, crimes, and sex being a distant past. There were no real intense challenges from anyone. So the modern day police department is sent in to stop him. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. Simon is a lot stronger, faster and somehow has the ability to hack into anything and can even fight better. Because of the low turn violence and experience of real action, the cops pretty much fold like wet blankets, incompetently getting taken out and out of their depth. 

So a young Lennia Hux (Sandra Bullock) who is fascinated with the past ‘90s recommends unfreezing John Spartan to help out and take out Simon. This is where the movie turns into a cat and mouse situation with John on the hunt for Simon, but always seemingly one step behind him. At the same time John struggles in an unfamiliar world where most of his basic tactics are limited, seen as primal, and are disregarded. But the more John investages the more he uncovers that this perfect utopia isn’t what it all appears to be. Simon escaping from the prison wasn’t an accident. He keeps hearing voices in his head telling him to kill a rebel leader. And when he faces Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), the person responsible for this perfected utopia, Simon tries to shoot him but he can’t seem to pull the trigger. What could this possibly mean?

In the end all these plot points culminate in the resistance group and the other members of society confronting each other with conflicting mindsets of the government. This results in John getting in a final battle with Phoenix to stop him from releasing hundreds of criminals from cryogenic sleep. There’s guns, explosions, lasers, and high tech machine cranes flinging around like an arcade game of pinball. In the end John freezes Phoenix and because of the “baby lock restrictions,” Given to me by my school. I can’t describe what happens next. But let’s just say Phoenix loses his head.

“Demolition Man” is everything you can ask for in a 90’s action movie. It’s got explosions, towing gun fights, extreme car chases, cool whippy one liners and Stallone yelling and running away from explosions. It’s all there and everything is competently shot, and stunt work is great with so much hit behind it. Even some of the set work holds up today with much of it being practical effects and less CGI. 

John Spartan is everything a ‘90s hero should be. He’s big, tough looking, he smokes, swears, drives cool cars because it looks cool and even eats junk food like when he’s in the sewer when he eats a literal rat burger. At the same time we also get to see a more compassionate and thoughtful side to John. Like when he reacts to his family being killed when he was frozen,or him after beating up a bunch of refugee rebels desperately trying to scavenge for food. 

Simon Phoenix on the other hand is the literal embodiment of chaos and destruction. He doesn’t do it because of some deep felt or understandable selfish goal. He does it because he just revels in the chaos he is causing. And Wesley Snipes has an absolute blast with this role. And it’s just so fun to watch. 

Going around the place beating on cops, shooting up places and  even harassing random civilians just for the fun of it. And after getting the skills downloaded into his subconscious he knows how to make all his violent mayhem dreams come true.

Lennia Hux, played by Sandra Bullock, was also an intriguing character. She serves as a kind of guide for John in the new world. And unlike everyone else in the police force who sees him as a primal animal that needs to be put down, she’s infatuated with him and grows a romantic admiration for John and the world he lived in. But John’s disapproval and reluctance sheds a light on her, showing that the life of a hero isn’t what it’s all cut out to be and cleverly subverting the means of the classic unstoppable hero archetype. But in the end the love bugs strangle each other and they both fall in love. 

Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne) technically serves as the main antagonist. After all he’s the creator of the life philosophy and economy they all live in today, the one who banned all primal things that could make anyone flawed and is basically praised as the savior of their time. But the reality is he’s kind of a maliciously tyrannical businessman pulling all the strings, hiring Simon to kill a rebel leader who threatened his very plans. 

Who is interesting enough is the one who kills him. When Simon convinces Raymond to unfreeze a bunch of his gang members to help out. But when Simon gets kind of bored with Raymond he tries to kill him but because of a program in his subconscious that Raymond placed as a precaution he can’t kill him himself. So naturally he hands a gun to the other criminal who shoots him instead. Really?! I can’t believe this mastermind didn’t see this coming and place the same program in them as well. 

Overall, this movie is an entertaining movie but it also serves as a deeper message for everyone under all the gun gravoto and explosions. It’s a message about the dangers of sacrificing everything in the name of comfort. It exposes interesting questions about the wider impact of this kind of society and the flaws that lurk beneath the mask of perfection of a utopia. The ban of drugs, violence and even intimate intercourse. Creating the rise and dependency of technology taking over everyone’s lives. Creating superficial happy people with nothing really meaningful in their lives and feeling unfulfilled. Not being able to handle adversity, hardship, fulfillment or anything relating to an actual meaningful relationship. To the point others can’t really relate to each other.  

Society, without even knowing it, is governed and ruled by a big corporate business. Like the only fast food corporation being Taco Bell who won the franchise war putting all the others out of business. It is turned into a posh and well-mannered diner like it’s a wealthy person’s banquet. Which if you ever have been in a real Taco Bell before, you probably will laugh yourself ‘till you crap yourself.  

Interestingly enough some releases outside of America like Europe were changed to flippin’ Pizza Hut because it had a greater international influence. Which is just as funny as seeing training wheels on a Ford focus.  

To put it all simply, “Demolition Man” is a great movie and I recommend it to everyone to watch it.