Now after watching the movie and reading up on it, I found out that this was a cult classic.
The idea was pretty cool... It's about 20 years into the future (from 1981) and New York has been evacuated and separated from the rest of the U.S. and has become a dumping ground of prisoners and low-lives.
Air Force One gets hijacked and is crashed into a building (ironically, lead Kurt Russell lands his glider onto the World Trade Center). The President surives as he enters his escape pod but is then captured and kidnapped by The Duke... the guy who runs the place. Kurt Russell an ex-army man is supposed to be sent to New York for armed robbery. He gets a deal where all his crimes will be forgiven if he gets the President back in 23 hrs. And that's when the mayhem begins...
Really good concept and I guess for a movie made in the early 80s, it was something really original and different. Keeping that in mind, personally I felt there was a lot left to be desired in the screenplay.
Director John Carpenter did a pretty good job. He had a good vision but I felt he couldn't take it to the next level. Nonetheless, a decently engrossing film even though there were half-baked characters and patches of boredom.
Kurt Russell (I'm an in-the-closet Kurt Russell fan) is awesome as the patch wearking Snake Plisskin... Carpenter and Kurt came together again for a sequel Escape from L.A. Will watch that one soon and write about it. But heard it was a disaster for various reasons and bombed at the box-office.
Trivia: The bad guy Duke played by Isaac Hayes was the voice of chef in South Park. He passed away a couple of months ago.
From what I heard, a remake of this film is planned to be produced by New Line Cinema starring Gerard Butler. It definitely has tremendous potential today.