In the 21st century, according to "Demolition Man," voters bring San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara together as one huge city, San Angeles.
Taco Bell wins the "franchise wars" and every restaurant becomes a Taco Bell (which explains all those TV ads we're seeing pushing the movie and the eatery).
"Oldies" radio listeners hear commercial jingles, implying that pop music along with classical, jazz and country-western, for that matter has been outlawed.
Meanwhile, at the Cryo-Penitentiary, criminals have been frozen while undergoing brainwashing rehabilitation.
Things we 20th-century barbarians take for granted are punishable offenses, including cigarettes, liquor and salt. Even profanity is against the law people are fined for every curse they utter. As you might guess, both good guy Sylvester Stallone and bad guy Wesley Snipes rack up quite a tab.
By the year 2032, people are so mellow there is virtually no crime and police officers don't even know how to employ physical defensive tactics since criminals are never violent.
As you might surmise, this futuristic society is a combination of "1984" and the Eloi society of "The Time Machine." And like the latter film, there is an underground society, less benign than those who live topside.
The film begins with Stallone, a maverick cop in 1996, chasing his arch-enemy Snipes, who has kidnapped a bus full of people. Stallone always gets his man but he also always destroys a lot of property. Hence, his nickname: "Demolition Man."
But when Stallone is framed by Snipes they both go to the Cryo-Prison and are frozen for umpteen years. When Snipes escapes during a parole hearing in 2032, the ineffective police decide to thaw out Stallone as well, reasoning that to catch a 20th-century thug they just might need a 20th-century cop.
Surprisingly, "Demolition Man" is more a comedy than strictly a thriller, with lots of off-the-wall humor . . . some of which is, unfortunately, driven into the ground. And it shouldn't come as a surprise that the movie rips off dozens of other sci-fi action flicks, from "Blade Runner" to "Logan's Run" to "Total Recall" . . . even Woody Allen's "Sleeper."
Some elements work better than others, the best being blond and raggedy Snipes, giving his role such all-out energy that he overwhelms Stallone and anyone else who dares to share the screen.
The worst element is that nagging sense that with all the money put into this picture and with so many interesting ideas at work, it should have been smarter and funnier. Even the action becomes tedious, as the camera pays too much attention to framing everything in chaotic close-ups.
But with Snipes giving his role everything he's got a considerable amount by any measure and with some amusing bits tying together the action scenes, there is plenty of eye candy at work here, which should satisfy action fans.
"Demolition Man" is rated R for the expected mayhem, plenty of profanity, a few vulgar gags, some nudity and a comic sex scene.