Dir. Martin Campbell (1995)
A privately owned prison island houses two camps of criminals, one a soldier convicted for murdering his boss.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
No Escape was a science fiction movie from 1995 that takes place in 2022, so it’s certainly interesting to see how close it matches up with the realities of today. The film opens with a prologue screen that states: “In the year 2022, the international prison system is operated by private corporations. Criminals from all over the world are exploited at a profit. Prisons have become big business.” Well… that’s a pretty spot-on prediction, and actually fairly disheartening…
No Escape features the late Ray Liotta as Captain J.T. Robbins, an ex-Marine who murdered his commanding officer in front of his entire platoon and is sent to a prison colony run by a brutal private corporation. He discovers that the worst of the prisoners go to a place called Absolom, a lawless island filled with ferocious, heavily-armed psychopaths named The Outsiders who have made this prison fortress their own kingdom. Here the prisoners learn the value of friendship and trust, building a new, virtuous utopia in the jungle.
Just kidding. They murder the fuck out of each other. Liotta escapes their grasp and finds himself living with the second group he finds on the island, a commune where everyone shares their work as long as they follow the rules. Led by a mysterious man named Father (Lance Henriksen), this group is constantly vigilant to prevent an attack from The Outsiders while trying their best to live a decent life in this hellscape in which they’ve found themselves.
A perfect blend between Mad Max, The Rock and Lord of the Flies, No Escape is a film that left me wondering how the hell I missed this one in the 90’s. I could’ve had another thirty years with this masterpiece! This is one 90’s scifi/action classic that fell beneath my radar, but I’m so glad I got to check it out now, because it is amazing. It’s silly, over-the-top, and absolutely bonkers, but it also has some amazing performances from Liotta, Lance Henriksen (Near Dark) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) and some amazing, balls-to-the-wall action sequences. Stuart Wilson (Hot Fuzz) is fantastic as the dastardly (and hilarious) Walter Marek, doing his best Hoffman in Hook impression throughout the film while leading the marauding Outsiders.
I’m a giant fan of Unearthed Films, and while this doesn’t seem like a movie they’d normally release, it’s fucking fantastic and will scratch every 90’s action itch you’ve got. I highly recommend you check this one out, because this thing is loaded: it’s got interviews with the producer, director, and writer, and it’s even got a “Making of” featurette. Normally, I would caution horror lover away from buying a movie that they haven’t seen before, but if you’re a fan of the type of stuff that Vinegar Syndrome puts out, this one is a must buy.
Who this movie is for: Action movie fans, Scifi lovers, Children who hold the conch
Bottom line: A fantastic scifi/action mashup from the 90’s, No Escape gives you every last ounce of your Ray Liotta quota, and that’s before we even talk about Lance Henriksen and Ernie Hudson. It’s a fantastic film, so much fucking fun, and exactly the kind of movie that I wish they still made. I slept on this one for almost thirty years, but now that I’ve seen it, it’s a must own. The fact that I can get it and support Unearthed Films, probably the best purveyors of disturbing cinema on the planet? Yes, please. Check this one out, and get your copy from UnearthedFilms.com