The best satire cuts so close, it almost hurts. Sometimes it does hurt. Much like that sting when you disinfect a wound, it's helping you heal.
John Carpenter's Escape from LA may have been a theatrical flop in 1996. It may have seemed like an unnecessary and unworthy sequel to his fantastic Escape from New York. The script may even have needed another draft or two.
But the truth is, Carpenter was just a man ahead of his time. Again. (See also: John Carpenter's The Thing.)
WHY IT WORKS NOW
Context is everything. We watch movies like we listen to music. If we're not feeling it, maybe we don't appreciate it as much.
In 1996, we were smack in the middle of the Clinton era. You might have had some quibbles with your country's administration, but it wasn't anywhere near dystopian.
The AV Club's Noel Murray offered a cogent analysis of why you should rewatch this film back in May 2016. Even that recently, he probably had no idea how apt this film would become mere months later, in our post-election world.
You can read his full review here:
Like the best satire, it's painfully dark. Let's watch it, laugh uncomfortably, appreciate the beautiful B-movie-ness of it all, and not let our own timeline get any closer to a work of fiction that's aged frighteningly well.