Made at the height of the "PC-era" on college campuses, this satirical shoot-em-up uses a Rip van Winkle setup to tell a story of a dystopian future, one in which political correctness has become a totalitarian regime that covers the country like a wet blanket.
In the year 2032, society is harmonious and violence-free. Los Angeles is now known as San Angeles, and hasn't had a murder since 2010 (!!!) Swearing is punishable by a fine, and greetings are safely and tactfully touch-free. Even sex is hands-off, with the assistance of orgasmotronic helmets. It is a bland and peaceful world, where the police are perpetually bored.
But first, back in 1996 Los Angeles, the titular character, a maverick law enforcement officer named John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), is pursuing the dangerous psycopath Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). When hostages die in an explosion during the apprehension of Phoenix, Spartan earns his moniker, as well as a sentence in CryoPrison alongside the criminal he has just caught.
Fast forward to 2032, and Phoenix has escaped from CryoPrison. He goes on a crime spree in San Angeles, and the bewildered and helpless police department is obligated to awaken Spartan. After all, only a maniac can catch a maniac. Hilarity ensues as the churlish and outspoken Spartan runs afoul of the PC ways of the future. There is plenty of amusing satire at the expense of contemporary trends. Contemporary to the time the movie was released, of course. For this movie is mocking the early 1990s, and by extending that era's zeitgeist into the 2030s, it takes the concept of linear history to an extreme.
Demolition Man describes a world where the elder generation of 1993, the Silent Generation, has had its ideals of plurality, sensitivity, decency and harmony completely institutionalized, as though they would continue to be the elder generation for forty more years. Then catastrophe occurs when a brutally violent Gen-Xer is injected into the milieu. But that is not how social evolution actually happens. In reality, as a generation ages and passes, its influence on society fades, especially for a generation like the Silent. In the twenty years or so since 1993, the factious and indecorous Boomers and Gen-Xers have aged into positions of power and influence, and dashed the Silent ideals to pieces.
Reality can't take away from the fun of a good sci-fi yarn, however, and Demolition Man is good fun, if you can stand the action genre mix of excessive firepower and snarky one-liners. Mellow greetings, and be well!
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