It is fifteen years in the future and a plague has wiped out most of humanity, leaving the teenagers and a few adults to fend for themselves. One such teen is Lee (John Stockwell) who grew up on a farm with his guardian Albert (James Earl Jones), but he was restless there and one day decided to take off for the city, where he hoped to find adventure with a gang called The Clippers. He had his own motorbike, so drove the highways of the near-deserted America, stopping off along the way for a while with a young lady he met on the road, but still with that desire to reach Los Angeles and find his fortune...
Director Aaron Lipstadt and producer/screenwriter Don Keith Opper (who also took a role) had already conjured up one cult favourite of the early eighties with their science fiction cheapie Android, so flushed with the success of that they embarked on another sci-fi entry, this one more conceptually ambitious, though the movie that came out of that still looked rather cheap and nasty. Not such a problem with the post-apocalypse genre you would have thought, but for a start their costume designer had evidently been told to keep things "futuristic", which meant now, and probably then as well, the cast looked ridiculous in their get-ups.
Stuff like that could be enough to take you out of a movie altogether, but City Limits had other problems too. It was trying so desperately to be cool that its overeagerness led it astray, as if merely having the characters show up on customised motorbikes would be enough to carry the flimsy plot which failed to have the courage of its convictions. This was perhaps surprising when you had a cast already seasoned in cult movies, but they could do little with a script that took itself so seriously, including the jokes: if only they'd forgot about what was acceptable to keep their fashionable qualities and gone all out for nuttiness, much as the Italians would have with the concept.
Indeed, if there was one country's movie industry beating the Americans at their own game when it came to the post-apocalypse flick it was those Italians, but there was nothing here in City Limits (even the title was nondescript) to match the craziness of watching a George Eastman cutting a swathe through the doomed future. When Lee finds his gang, they are not happy to see him since he has threatened an uneasy truce between them and a rival gang, the D.A. whose territory he stumbled into and in his attempts to flee, accidentally killed one of their members. Cue more riding about on those bikes, which in theory should have picked things up a bit but in practice was just, well, stuntmen riding around and occasionally falling off the vehicles.
But there is a bigger baddie than D.A. leader Ray (Danny De La Paz), and he is Bolo (Norbert Weisser) who is trying to dominate the city and has a bunch of henchmen to assist him. In an ambush, he sees to it that The Clippers' numbers are drastically depleted by gunfire - the gangs had an agreement never to use guns - and the survivors retreat to Albert's farm to recuperate. This might have been more interesting if it wasn't so uninspired, with even the quirks such as comic books being the currency of the day barely registering when the rest was so dull. It wasn't as if the actors were a dead loss, if you watched a lot of this kind of thing from this era you'd likely recognise more than a few of them, with Kim Cattrall as a defector probably the actress who went on to the biggest career, though this was still a couple of years after she had made an impact in Porky's. For Lipstadt, this appeared to put him off making features for good, pretty much, and he retreated to series television; funnily enough, you could envisage a TV show premise coming out of this. Music by Mitchell Froom and John Lurie.