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Demolition Man is a 1993 American dystopian action film directed by Marco Brambilla, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne and Denis Leary.

The film is a story about two men, one an evil crime lord and the other a risk-taking police officer, who are cryogenically frozen in the year 1997 and reawakened to face each other in 2032. Los Angelesmarker, now called San Angeles, has become part of a planned city where violence is eliminated from mainstream society. Some aspects of the film allude to Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel, Brave New World.

Demolition Man grossed $58,055,768 by the end of its box office run in North America.


Simon Phoenix faces John Spartan in 2032

In 1997, Los Angelesmarker has fallen into chaos, with criminal warlords ruling various sections of the city. The most dangerous of these is Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), who has just kidnapped a busload of people that strayed into his territory. The LAPD mounts a raid on his headquarters, with Sergeant John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) – nicknamed “Demolition Man” for the extensive property damage that occurs when he apprehends criminals – going in first and alone. He captures Phoenix, but the latter sets off explosives to destroy the building; the bodies of the bus passengers are soon found in the rubble. Spartan is also arrested on Phoenix’s accusation that the hostages had been alive before Spartan's actions, and both men are sent to the California State “CryoPrison,” where they are cryogenically frozen in suspended animation to serve out their lengthy sentences (Spartan is sentenced to seventy years; eligible for parole no earlier or later than the year 2046, 50 years from '97. Phoenix is sentenced to life imprisonment).

Thirty-six years later, in 2032, Phoenix is thawed out for a parole hearing, whereupon he kills the warden and escapes. He begins to rampage through what is now “San Angeles” (a combination of Los Angelesmarker, San Diegomarker, and Santa Barbaramarker), hacking into the city’s computer network and overpowering police officers with ease. Since San Angeles is a pacifist utopia, the police are helpless to deal with this sort of behavior. However, Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock), an officer fascinated with 20th-century culture, suggests that Spartan be brought in to stop Phoenix.

Spartan is revived and reinstated on the force, but he chafes at the enforced tranquility of this society and many of the people he interacts with, particularly George Earle (Bob Gunton), the commanding Chief of Police/Captain, find his behavior barbaric. He still gains respect from the San Angeles police (particularly Huxley and Zachary Lamb, a fellow officer from 1996) due to his blue collar nature and anti-authoritarian attitude. Phoenix arms himself by breaking into an exhibit of now-anachronistic firearms at a local museum. Spartan tracks him down and fights him here, but Phoenix escapes and briefly encounters Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), the creator of San Angeles’ society. Cocteau suggests that Phoenix has a job to do: kill Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary), leader of the homeless “Scrap” people who live in the underground “Wasteland,” or the ruins of old Los Angeles.

Spartan and Huxley later witness Friendly leading the Scraps in an above-ground food raid, part of a resistance movement aimed at bringing down Cocteau’s paradise. They also determine that Phoenix was trained in all manner of violent criminal behavior while in CryoPrison, then allowed to escape so he could work for Cocteau. Meanwhile, Phoenix confronts Cocteau again and demands the release of several other criminals to help rebuild his organization.

Entering the Wasteland in search of Phoenix, Spartan, Huxley and sidekick Alfredo Garcia (Benjamin Bratt) meet Friendly face to face. The reason for his defiance of the established social order, he says, is that he is a free-thinking individual who only wants to be left alone to live his life as he chooses. Spartan and Phoenix fight down here, leading to a car chase through the San Angeles streets. At this point, Phoenix reveals that the bus passengers he kidnapped in 1996 were already dead before Spartan arrived, so the latter went to prison for a crime he never committed.

Phoenix eventually gets away, but Spartan and Huxley pursue him into the CryoPrison. Along the way, they find the body of Cocteau, shot dead by one of Phoenix’s men, and learn that Phoenix is thawing out the prison’s worst offenders. Going in alone, Spartan battles him one last time and finally freezes him solid, then kicks his head off to shatter on the floor. Damage from the brawl causes the system to overload, and Spartan barely makes it to the street before the entire CryoPrison explodes. In the aftermath, he suggests that the surface dwellers and Scraps work together to build a better society, then departs with Huxley to explore life in the future.


The film depicts a future society in which crime and violence are rare and seen as remnants of the 20th century.

Hints are dropped throughout the movie that the United States underwent a period of anarchy before it was stabilized. In particular, Taco Bell is the only restaurant available, because it won the "Franchise Wars". In some versions in Europe and the Arab World this was changed to Pizza Hut, another PepsiCo (now Yum! Brands) franchise. In some television edits, the restaurant name was removed altogether.

Several distinctive euphemisms and neologisms are used in the film: homicide is referred to as a "non-sanctioned life termination" and as "Murder Death Kill" or "MDK". A homicide has not taken place in 16 years, and the police are initially confused when the reports come in, having forgotten the code. In addition, even the mildest profanity is a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute, and punishable by police reprimand or a fine of one half to one credit per violation, which is automatically deducted from a citizen's finances. The perpetrator is dispensed a ticket by a machine. Perhaps to suggest the infantilisation of the 21st-century population, the favorite songs of the time are old 20th-century children's commercial jingles and many words have gained redundant, childish repetitions: to be happy is to experience "joy-joy" feelings, the policemen's stun batons are referred to as "baton-tons"; Edgar Friendly acknowledges, perhaps ironically, that Spartan has "ball-balls".

It is explained that anything "not good for you" is deemed "bad" and therefore illegal, including alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, non-educational toys, meat, spicy and unhealthy food, table salt and tobacco. Firearms can only be seen in museums. Physical contact was recognized as causing the spread of disease and is now seen as unusual. Even high-fives have been replaced with energetic waving. "Sex" is no longer a physical act for the same reasons, and even kissing is not condoned. Instead, "Vir-Sex" is performed by using sex simulators worn on the participants' heads to replace physical intercourse. Procreation is carried out in a laboratory; abortion is illegal, but so is unlicensed pregnancy. Toilet paper has been replaced by a set of seashell-like items, though their method of use is left unexplained in the movie (though Stallone later suggested a possible method in an interview as told to him by one of the film's writers).

During a conversation with Spartan, Huxley reveals that Arnold Schwarzenegger had become president, as his popularity led to the elimination of the natural born status via the 61st Amendment to the Constitution.


Filming locations for Demolition Man

The new Los Angeles Convention Centermarker is used in an establishing shot, with superimposed matting of futuristic buildings composited in the background.

The building used for exterior shots of the SAPD building was the California Headquarters of GTE in Thousand Oaks.

The police station in the background the first time Stallone goes outside as an officer is The Baxter building in Westlake Village, CA.

The Pacific Design Centermarker, in West Hollywood is used for the exterior shot of Lenina Huxley's apartment building.

More filming locations can be seen here.


Steven Segal and Jean Claude Van Damme were the original choices for the role of John Spartan and Simon Phoenix respectively. But Van Damme refused to play the character of Phoenix and asked for the role of John. When Steven Segal refused to play the villain, both men left the project. Jackie Chan was offered the role of Simon Phoenix but he turned it down saying he never wants to play a villain.

Sandra Bullock's character's name 'Lenina Huxley' is a reference to Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, a character in Brave New World.

Jack Black played one of the "Wasteland Scraps" in the underground scene, who flinches when Spartan shoves the gun out of his face and says "And Cocteau's an asshole!"

Jesse Ventura, former WWE wrestler and later Governor of Minnesota, played one of Simon Phoenix's Cryocon allies.

Rob Schneider played Erwin, one of the operators in the Los Angeles Police control room; he would also play opposite Stallone in the 1995 movie Judge Dredd.

Sandra Bullock replaced original actress Lori Petty in the role of Lt Lenina Huxley after a few days filming.

Then-football player Bill Goldberg, who would later become a famous professional wrestling superstar, appears in the film in a cameo .

At one point in the movie, John Spartan is seen protecting an unknown female Scrap from Phoenix and his revived gang. Going by the novelization, this is likely his daughter (now the same age he is), who was mentioned several times in passing but never actually seen in the movie. In the novel, she reintroduced herself to her father moments before Phoenix's attack occurred. This would suggest that the scenes featuring her were filmed or written in the shooting script, but subsequently cut.


  • Warden William Smithers is named after the actor William Smithers who played the sadistic Warden Barrot in Papillon (1973).
  • A poster for Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) can be seen in Lenina Huxley's office. Both films had Mark Poll as a set designer and Joel Silver as producer. Steve Kahan portrays Stallone's Los Angeles police department Captain, much like the commanding officer of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover's characters from the Lethal Weapon movies.
  • Benjamin Bratt's character, "Alfredo Garcia", is named after the Sam Peckinpah’s film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974).
  • In an early scene, set after the first MDK (Murder Death Kill), the name Scott Peterson is listed as one of the cryo-prisoners. The name appears listed before Simon Phoenix on a computer display, which the character Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) has called to the screen. This is merely a coincidence; however, as Scott Peterson was not a public figure until he was tried for the murder of his wife during 2004-2005.
  • Lenina Huxley tells John Spartan about the Arnold Schwarzenegger Presidential Library, explaining that, based on the sheer popularity of his movies, a Constitutional amendment was passed in order for Schwarzenegger to run for president, which, according to Huxley, he did. In 2003, ten years after this film's release, Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California and shortly after his election, three senators separately proposed amendments to the US Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to become president. Additionally, Stallone, along with Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Demi Moore backed the opening of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain.
  • The original name of the movie was "Future Cop".
  • During a scene where Spartan and Huxley surface up through the floor of an auto dealer's showroom in an old freight elevator, you can see a futuristic logo for the now defunct Oldsmobile brand of General Motors.
  • Sandra Bullock's costume during the Taco Bell sequence was made of stones and gems weighing approximately 40 pounds. After the fight scene outside the restaurant when her character gleefully jumps and replays the action, her dress actually started to rip, which is why she is holding her arms to her sides after Stallone walks away.
  • "Lenina Huxley" is a reference to the character "Lenina Crowne", a character in "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. At one point she says to John Spartan, "You are a savage creature, John Spartan" thus alluding to the Brave New World character John the Savage. Also, when Phoenix picks up the ray gun after it has finally charged, he says "It's a brave new world."
  • According to the commentary found on the RC1 DVD, there were some scenes deleted from the movie including a subplot involving Spartan's daughter and the murder of Zachary Lamb by Phoenix.
  • Sylvester Stallone wanted the Simon Phoenix character to be played by Jackie Chan. Chan refused, since Asian audiences do not like the idea of actors who have always played heroes suddenly playing evil characters.
  • During TV replays, the computer announcing the reanimation of Jeffrey Dahmer and Simon Phoenix's line "I love that guy!" is deleted. Dahmer was killed in "normal" prison after release of the movie so the line became anachronistic.

Reference to popular culture

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey - After breaking out of the cryogenic prison and using the information booth, Wesley Snipes refers to the booth as HAL from this 1968 film by Stanley Kubrick.
  • While You Were Sleeping - At one point, Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) says to John Spartan "While you were sleeping... ", referring to the time he was frozen. Bullock later starred in this 1995 movie.
  • Rambo - In the museum armory, Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) referred to one of the mannequins as Rambo, a character played by Sylvester Stallone in these three earlier movies.
  • After the car chase when John Spartan frees himself from the 'Secure Foam', Lenina Huxley is concerned about his injuries. He comments, "All I need is a needle and thread. I really didn't say that did I?". An obvious reference to John Rambo.
  • Star Wars - When John Spartan throws Alfredo Garcia's handy computer in order for Spartan to singlehandedly arrest Phoenix, John Spartan says: "Hey Luke Skywalker, use the Force!".
  • Scarface - When Simon Phoenix is fighting John Spartan in Lenina Huxley's car, he says "Say hello to my little friend!" a quote from this 1983 film starring Al Pacino.
  • Jackie Chan - At one point Lenina Huxley surprises John Spartan by showing her karate moves. John Spartan asks Lenina Huxley where did she learned that. Lenina Huxley states that she learned it from Jackie Chan movies. In reality, Stallone and this famous martial arts actor are good friends.
  • Jeffrey Dahmer - During some television replays, the computer announcing the reanimation of this real-life serial killer and Simon Phoenix says: "I love that guy!" is deleted. In real life, this serial killer was killed in "normal" prison after release of this movie so the line became anachronistic.
  • Star Trek - When looking around the museum armory, Simon Phoenix says "Wait a minute. This is the future. Where are all the phaser guns?"


The theme song to the film is titled "Demolition Man" and is played over the end credits. It is a remix (heavier version) of the song originally written by Sting and recorded during his time as frontman for The Police. The song was first released in 1981, as the fifth track on the band's fourth album, Ghost in the Machine. Sting released an EP featuring this song and other live tracks, entitled Demolition Man.

Acclaimed composer Elliot Goldenthal composed the score for the film; it was his second big Hollywood project after the Alien³ score.

Toy line

Demolition Man toys were released in 1993. The Mattel toys for the movie were based on their "New Adventures of He-Man" style of figures.

Wave One Figures
  • Battle Baton Spartan
  • Bazooka Attack Spartan
  • Kick Fighting Spartan
  • Battle Hook Friendly
  • Cryo-Claw Tech
  • Blast Attack Phoenix
  • Flame-Throwing Phoenix

Wave One Vehicles
  • Bolajet
  • Fast Blast 442 (re-used for the LAST ACTION HERO toy line)

Under the Mattel Hot Wheels banner, they released 9 die-cast Hot Wheels of the vehicles from the film.

1993 Hot Wheels Demolition Man Collection
  • GM Ultralite
  • Corvette Sting Ray III
  • GM Lean Machine
  • Pontiac Salsa
  • Pontiac Banshee
  • Chevrolet AAC Camaro
  • Olds 442
  • Buick Wildcat
  • Oldsmobile Aurora

Game adaptations

Virgin Interactive released Demolition Man on various home video game systems. The 16-bit versions were distributed by Acclaim. The 3DO version of the game was a first-person shooter that incorporated Full Motion Video scenes, with both Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes reprising their roles as their characters.

In April 1994, Williams released a widebody pinball game, Demolition Man (based on the movie). It is designed by Dennis Nordman. This game features sound clips from the movie, as well as original speech by Stallone and Snipes. This game was part of WMS' SuperPin series (Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones, etc.).


  3. IMDB:Black
  4. IMDB:Schneider

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