New York in the 21st Century is the safest big city in America. It's shiny, expensive, and full of young people whose parents fled when it was like this:
If you're a Millennial who has ever moved to or visited New York, chances are one or more of your older relatives freaked out and gave you a lot of unnecessary warnings about not making eye contact on the subway and how you shouldn't leave Times Square (public service announcement: you should go anywhere but Times Square). You probably wondered why anyone would worry about visiting this 8.5-million-strong Disneyland for rich people (in Manhattan, anyway). This is why: because the place used to be a dystopian reality.
This film was created as a companion piece to A Most Violent Year, a feature film about an immigrant who moves to New York and must protect his family and business during the city's darkest era.
The worst year for homicides in New York city was 1990, but the lowest point in the city's emotional history probably came in the period after the 1977 bankruptcy (FORD TO NEW YORK: DROP DEAD) and before the financial market boom of the 1980s. I think. I didn't exist until 1985, so this is just what I've gathered from a lifetime of watching movies and reading books about NYC's history. As it's mentioned at the beginning of the film, 1981 was when Escape From New York was released, and indeed, the period from the late 70s to the early 90s was the heyday of dystopian visions of America's urban future. Between the Escape movies and films like Robocop and The Warriors, it was pretty much a given that by 2015, America's cities would all be governed by roving gangs of psychotic teens on crazy future-drugs.