Absolom's Absolute Fun
I first watched "No Escape" a few years after it came out and enjoyed it and to my surprise probably 15 years after I first watched it I still enjoyed it when I caught it again recently. But I would be lying if I said that "No Escape" was anything special as in truth watching it now I just kept on thinking about other movies with similar ideas. There is a bit of "Mad Max" some typical mean prison warden stuff going on, a bit of "Lord of the Flies". But "No Escape" is entertaining in a popcorn movie sort of way with plenty of action, some reasonable special effects for its age and a slice of humour as well.
In the year 2022 prisons are run by businesses and greedy wardens and Capt. J.T. Robbins (Ray Liotta - Goodfellas) who shot his commanding officer finds himself in a maximum security facility after two previous escapes. Informed that no on escapes he soon falls foul of the warden (Michael Lerner) when he pulls a gun on him and finds himself dispatched to a place called Absolom, an island jungle which is divided in two with the barbaric Outsiders and the more civilized Insiders. Having been caught by the Outsiders and taken to their leader Marek (Stuart Wilson - Lethal Weapon 3), Robbins not only kills some of his men but manages to escape, something never done before. He ends up in the village of the Insiders where the only thing on his mind is escape something which the Insiders lead by Father (Lance Henriksen - Hard Target) are also considering due to the constant battle to survive on Absolom and the need to tell the outside world what is really going on in prison.
To be honest there isn't a great deal to be said about "No Escape" as it does walk through some pretty familiar cliches. It starts with a look at the future where we have a monorail carrying prisoners to a very futuristic prison. This leads into the obligatory meeting with the sadistic warden who via a hologram informs the prisoners no one escapes or leaves, the only way out is when they die. But all of this is a bit misleading because then we switch to "Lord of the Flies" territory with the island of Absolom with the two tribes, the violent Outsiders and peace loving Insiders.
What we get on the island is this mix starting with brutal action as people die in bloody battle or get their heads chopped off for back talking Marek or get a flaming arrow in their mouth. We get primitive inventiveness with the Insiders having built homes and some sort of civilization under the guidance of Father. And then we get the humour from the Insiders celebrating Christmas with one of them dressed as Santa to various quips which Robbins delivers often in the company of the younger Casey who he feels for. But in truth that is pretty much it or at least to divulge more things would make it pointless to watch.
Now there are plenty of recognizable faces in "No Escape"; there is Ernie Hudson, Kevin Dillon, Michael Lerner, Ian McNeice who camps it up to provide plenty of humour. But at the centre of all this is Ray Liotta, not the most obvious choice for an action movie but accounts for himself quite well with a lot of time required to just stare with those icy blue eyes of his. And then there is Stuart Wilson who as Marek embraces the over the top side to his futuristic warrior character with some enjoyable sarcasm.
What this all boils down to is that "No Escape" is a lot of fun for fans of action movies but if you dare to think about it for too long you will be left with a lot of questions and no answers.