Demolition Man Remains One Of The Most Underrated Movies Of The '90s

When was the last time you watched Demolition Man? It might look like another futuristic shoot-em-up movie starring Sylvester Stallone, but Demolition Man is actually an underrated '90s movie. It's easily one of the best action movies of its time. The 1993 film hits all of the major action movie plot points. There’s the unstoppable bad guy, the oblivious good guy, and the plethora of explosives. However, Demolition Man is also surprisingly satirical. Most actions films don't even attempt that feat.

There are a few '90s action films that unequivocally stand the test of time, but Demolition Man is rarely considered to be one of those movies. You'll be surprised to learn, then, why this cinematic masterpiece is worth a second watch. 

  • The Film Is More Nuanced Than Other Action Films

    Despite being described as a "terrrrrible movie," Demolition Man is, in fact, a great film. Film director Marco Brambilla favors long shots that provide interesting character moments. Comparatively, most other action sequences are over-edited and jumpy.

    The film originally received mixed reviews, but some critics just didn't understand the premise. Demolition Man was actually released ahead of its time. The scenes are subtly hilarious and the acting is timeless. If you want something more basic, watch any other action movie. Demolition Man is much more nuanced.

  • The Film Pokes Fun At And Celebrates Typical Action Movie Tropes

    Demolition Man works on multiple levels. If you just want to watch Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes fight and trade quips about Taco Bell you can do that. But you can also watch a trenchant critique of all '80s and '90s action films. This movie pokes fun at the old tropes. There are the absurd action set-ups; people jump out of helicopters; intense fire fights happen frequently. Plus, every character somehow knows karate.

    Unlike straight parody action films like National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon and The Naked Gun, Demolition Man doesn't just rely on gags. It's a smart and funny movie. It's rare that a movie makes fun of the tropes while celebrating them at the same. 

  • The Film Actually Predicts The Future

    It's easy to assume that the Taco Bell product placement in Demolition Man is a shameless attempt to advertise. But rather than being a plug for the fast food spot, the movie actually comments on the very nature of product placement. Taco Bell is the only restaurant available in the futuristic Demolition Man setting. The chain wins the fast food wars, becoming a restaurant that only rich yuppies can afford.

    This is incredibly ironic. Demolition Man comments on the pervasiveness of the fast food industry, and in a way the film predicts the future. Taco Bell is actually revamping to create more modern, high-tech establishments that will cater to a slightly altered demographic.

  • Some Characters Are Eerily Similar To Millennials

    Sandra Bullock plays Aldous Huxley in Demolition Man. Even as an official law enforcement agent, Huxley traffics in nostalgia of the 20th century. She collects memorabilia from the '90s and obsesses over a time that she can only imagine. The officer even treasures Lethal Weapon and old commercial jingles. 

    In fact, Huxley is quite similar to modern millennials. She longs for the past even though, in theory, her present situation is much more advanced. 

  • The Three Shells Thing Doesn't Make Sense, But It Still Works

    It's impossible to discuss Demolition Man without mentioning "the three shells." Somehow, these mysterious shells allow people of the future to clean up after using the bathroom. None of the future folk in the film ever explain the shells to John Spartan, but the audience understands that it's a complicated process. 

    Screenwriter Daniel Waters came up with the shells after ideating with a friend. Waters mentioned:

    "Ironically enough that guy was taking a dump when he answered the phone, looked around his bathroom and said, 'I have a bag of seashells on my toilet as a decoration?' I said, 'Okay, I'll make something out of that.'"

  • Wesley Snipes Makes His Character Appropriately Menacing

    What's an action movie without a villain? Wesley Snipes's Simon Phoenix character is a power-hungry, super smart, karate master, running wild in San Angeles. Phoenix's character rocks a bleached blonde cut and colorful  clothing. Any lesser actor would have made the character a goof. Snipes makes Phoenix menacing, though. It's hard to think of anyone else playing this character.