**Two Notes: First, I warn you once, and once only. If you haven’t seen these films, I’ll be discussing things in here that would be considered “spoilers” for their endings. No way around it, and this is the only warning you’ll get.
Recently, Lord Bezos’ streaming services offered unto me the opportunity to revisit John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. for no additional charge. Being as how I was available and willing to do so, once that “Prime’ banner was slapped across the thumbnail image it was a given that I would.
As most anyone can tell you, I’m happy to revisit movies I disliked. I spent decades actively disliking The Shining, only to revisit it and discover that whatever had changed in me, enabled me to appreciate it for the masterwork film that it is. If you subscribe to the limited-run series House of Fincher on The Nerd Party, you’ll enjoy hearing not just me, but other David Fincher fans, come to new appreciations of his work as well.
The point is, I’m willing to give things another shake to reconsider my assessment. Sometimes a fresh viewing can let you know how you’ve changed, or even how you haven’t.
To get this part out of the way, Escape from LA is “uneven” at best. You can read my “full” review over on Letterboxd if you like.(Letterboxd is the only social media service truly worth the time, if I’m honest.)
But there was something that I realized as I watched it this time. Luke Skywalker’s “projection” at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is less original than most people thought.
Luke Skywalker’s “Trick” Owes a Debt to Snake Plissken
At the end of Escape from L.A., Snake Plissken dupes the US president and his cadre of paramilitary thugs by using a holographic projection of himself from half a mile away. They open fire, and he stands there unscathed. It’s not until Commander Malloy swings through him with a rifle that they realize they’re interacting with someone who isn’t there.
Snake Plissken, hologram.
At the end of Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker dupes Kylo Ren and his cadre of military thugs by using a Force projection of himself from several planets away. They open fire, and he stands there unscathed. It’s not until Kylo Ren swings through him with a lightsaber that they realize they’re interacting with someone who isn’t there.
Luke Skywalker…well, honestly, yes, hologram.
You see I’m not just imagining this similarity, right? And I didn’t even realize it until I sat down and revisited Escape from L.A. decades later, because I was willing to give it another shot.
To be clear, I’m not claiming any sort of thievery happened here. I don’t think it’s even a purposeful “homage” to Carpenter; unless Rian Johnson wants to claim otherwise, this could be like Keith Richards’ story behind the hit song Anybody Seen My Baby? from The Rolling Stones.
Maybe it was just sitting around in Rian Johnson’s head as a subconscious suggestion when he needed a big twist.
All I really know is, if John Carpenter were as touchy as Harlan Ellison, there’d be problems.