In the 1990s, urban terrorist Simon Phoenix is imprisoned in ice for the protection of society. His arch-nemesis, police officer John Spartan, also suffers the same fate after Phoenix frames him for the deaths of a busload of innocent bystanders.
In 2032, in the renamed city of San Angeles, Phoenix is accidentally freed and begins a new crime spree on a now violence-free populace. Spartan is released to capture the one-man wrecking crew; in the process, he discovers the corruption beneath San Angeles' pristine surface. Through non-stop jokes and action, Spartan shows the docile, futuristic police force that the old ways are sometimes the best ways.
Set in the year 2032, the film takes innumerable shots at life in the 1990s and in the future. Stallone plays a 20th Century cop who is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and is sentenced to be placed in cryostasis (frozen rehabilitation) for a number of years. When he awakes in the future he finds his arch-enemy, played by Wesley Snipes (``Passenger 57'') has escaped from cryostasis and is causing havoc in what is then known as ``San Angeles.''
The California of the future turns out to be even weirder than it is today. The San Angeles of the future has been taken over by a sort of crazed politically-correct psychiatrist, who has outlawed everything that he considers bad for people.
There's no smoking, no drinking, no meat, no cussing, no sex, no violence and no crime to speak of. It is a utopia where people aren't allowed to have fun. The film pokes fun at future society as well as the 20th century. For instance the most popular music of the era is the ``oldies'' music of 20th century television commercials. It is truly bizarre to see two futuristic police officers riding in their squad car singing the ``Oscar Meyer Wiener Song,'' for instance, and every restaurant in the future is a Taco Bell.
Although there is a lot of comedy in the movie there is also plenty of violence. The body count is high, but the violence isn't terribly graphic, as it was in ``Robocop.'' There is no sex in the film, but the language is pretty graphic (and that's also played for laughs).
Stallone does a pretty good job in his role as an old-fashioned cop. The real star of the film, however, is Snipes, who turns in a very entertaining performance as a wacky bad guy. Snipes, although playing an evil character, seems to be having a great deal of fun outwitting the police. His character is reminiscent of the Joker in ``Batman.''
A great villain goes a long way toward making an action movie successful and Snipes certainly does more than his share to make this an enjoyable film. The action sequences are effective and there are enough special effects to keep things interesting. On the down side, the film moves a little slowly in spots and the romance between Stallone and fellow cop Sandra Bullock doesn't really work.