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No Escape, released in some countries as Escape from Absolom, is a 1994 American action/science fiction film directed by Martin Campbell and starring Ray Liotta, Lance Henriksen, Stuart Wilson, Kevin Dillon and Ernie Hudson. It was based on the 1987 novel The Penal Colony, by Richard Herley.

No Escape
No escape poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Campbell
Produced by Jake Eberts
Gale Anne Hurd
Screenplay by Michael Gaylin
Joel Gross
Based on The Penal Colony
by Richard Herley
Music by Graeme Revell
Tim Simonec
Cinematography Phil Meheux
Edited by Terry Rawlings
Distributed by Savoy Pictures
Release date
  • April 29, 1994 (1994-04-29)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $15.3 million

The story, set in a dystopian future, concerns a former Marine who is serving life imprisonment on an island inhabited by savage and cannibalistic prisoners. It was shot in Queensland, Australia.



In the year 2022, the penal system is run by corporations, with prisoners seen as assets. Highly-trained ex-Marine John Robbins is imprisoned for life for murdering his commanding officer after being ordered to kill innocent civilians in Benghazi (Libya); having escaped from two Level 5 maximum security prisons, he is sent to a Level 6 facility. A fellow prisoner tells him about "Absolom", an island where they send the worst prisoners and is feared more than the prison. The Warden, after he is held at gunpoint by Robbins, is convinced that he is a threat and exiles him to the island.

On the island, Robbins is captured by a large group of prisoners known as the 'Outsiders', whose only rule is The Law of the Jungle and are led by a sociopath named Marek. The abandoned island resort -complete with dilapidated houses and a swimming pool- is where the Outsiders have established a base. Marek insists that Robbins fight one of his men for his amusement and is impressed when Robbins kills his opponent in seconds. He offers him a position in his gang; instead, Robbins knocks Marek into the pool, steals his rocket launcher, and flees from the Outsider's camp. Pursued through the jungle, he ends up trapped at the edge of a high cliff and is shot in the neck by blowgun darts. He falls into the river below and washes up on some rocks; he is retrieved by another prisoner group, called the 'Insiders'.

The Insiders' camp, led by a terminally-ill doctor called the 'Father', established a cooperative autonomous community with laws as opposed to the tyranny of the Outsiders. Robbins meets Father, King -the new-arrival helper- and befriends Casey, a naive young man given a life sentence for taking part in a kidnapping gone wrong. Robbins learns that the Warden lets the prisoners do what they want -including killing each other off-, that the Insiders are heavily outnumbered (98 to the over-600 Outsiders), and that he is the only person to have ever escaped from Marek's camp. The weapon he stole has been appropriated for the good of the community.

After helping repel an attack by the Outsiders, Father notes Robbins's resourcefulness and combat acumen and asks him to join them. He refuses, saying he wants to leave Absolom; Father takes Robbins to the shore, explaining that they are 200 miles from the mainland with gunships 50 miles off the coast. The prisoners are also being tracked by infrared satellite technology, mainly to detect thermal activity -such as large fires or explosions- that could tip off other agencies.

Meanwhile, Marek disposes of all the leaders of the various gangs that compose the Outsiders and takes complete control.

The Insiders have secretly built a scan-proof boat and launch it to tell the outside world about Absolom. Somehow, the boat is detected by attack helicopters and destroyed. Father mentions they must have an informer among them.

Robbins learns the Insiders have another boat and demands a seat, still determined to escape. He learns that the Insiders' boat engine needs a distributor, a part which Robbins saw while in Marek's camp and offers to retrieve the part in exchange for getting on the boat; the Insiders agree. Casey follows Robbins, who infiltrates the Outsiders' camp and gets the engine part, but they are captured by the Outsiders. Robbins is forced to fight Casey to the death; knowing they won't both escape, Casey impales himself on Robbin's weapon. Robbins is taken to be executed but, with the help of an Insider spy, Robbins escapes from the camp again, infuriating Marek, who announces an all-out war with the Insiders.

Over stern objection, Robbins convinces the Insiders to abandon their camp, but not before lacing it with booby traps. He stays behind to fire the stolen rocket launcher, igniting an incendiary bomb, killing most of the Outsiders, triggering the satellite infrared sensors, and causing the Warden to intervene. Marek attacks Robbins, but Father defends him, dying in the process. Robbins kills Marek, then finds the new boat incinerated and the boat builder stabbed to death; Robbins discovers King's necklace in his hand. Confronting King, Robbins forces him to give new coordinates to the Warden so that he will land his helicopter on the island. Robbins hijacks the helicopter, throwing the Warden out the door and escaping Absolom, vowing to spread the truth about the island so the prisoners will be released. King and the Warden are left behind, looking anxiously to the trees as the unseen Outsiders close in on them.



No Escape received mixed reviews from critics. It holds a rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews.

Video gameEdit

A video game based on the film was released in 1994 for Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and PC.[1]


Parts of the Warden's speeches at the start of the film have been re-edited and used on the track "Immune" from the eponymous first album of the band Godsmack.[2]


  1. ^ "No Escape". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  2. ^ Immune (Godsmack song)

External linksEdit