No Escape (1994)
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Unfortunately the film bombed on both sides of the Atlantic taking a measly $15m in the states and a pathetic £500,000 here in the UK on it's original release 10 years ago but don't let that put you off it's very well acted with plenty of action and Drama.
My Rating:- **** out of *****
Ray Liotta isn't exactly riding a post-Goodfellas high with this film, but its still very entertaining as trashy action fare. Liotta has a role that would probably be reserved for Arnold or Sly if this was a bigger production, but still makes a good job of playing a violent anti-hero. There are some great battle scenes and fun supporting performances.
Overall there isn't really much else to say about "No Escape", apart from you will be entertained if you enjoy action films that you can't take too seriously. If I'm objective I can't score it very highly but for entertainment value it gets 4/5.
One such prisoner is Ray Liotta. He may be a convicted murderer, but he did it for just motives, therefore we can root for him. And he bands together with a load of equally supportable prisoners on the island, compared to the other lot – who are basically barbarians. Thus we have our movie – the 'good' (well, just) prisoners, fighting off the 'bad' prisoners on a little island paradise.
Our boy Ray's helped out by a variety of other B-movie actors. You'll recognise him from what's-it-called and that bloke out of Aliens, plus the Ghostbuster who joined last. Anyway, it doesn't matter. It's a fun film with plenty of action and rolls along nicely, helped no small part by the baddie. He's great fun – naturally psychotic, but great fun. In than annals of B-movie baddies, Stuart Wilson deserves a mention – sometimes camp, always bonkers and ready to slaughter anyone just to keep control of the psychos under him.
Despite its 'B-movie' status, it's actually a little longer than your average 'straight to DVD' flick. Yet it never seems to drag. Basically, if you like action, B-movies with a touch of sci-fi and want something to eat popcorn to, give this one a try. You can pick it up pretty cheaply or even stream it from many a website.
Plus, is it just me, or are all the computer terminals straight out of 'Aliens?' It's like No Escape is set in the same universe.
But....it turns out the story isn't as sordid as it looks and the violence, although plentiful, is somehow not overdone. Also, the chief villain " Walter Marek" (Stuart Wilson) is a man with a good sense of humor. The comedic relief he brings is a real plus to the story. By the way, Wilson doesn't look like Mel Gibson but his voice sure sounds similar.
"No Escape" is strictly an action movie with an all-male cast that has a grim atmosphere of convicts fighting it out on an inescapable island in the year 2022.
Profanity isn't as much as you'd except in a tough film like this and - in a real oddity - Lance Henriksen is the nicest guy in the movie! He never utters a bad or angry word. If you know the characters Henriksen usually plays, you know this is a rarity. Ray Liotta, Michael Lerner and Ernie Hudson also star, so it's a decent cast.
You could do a lot worse looking for two hours of "escapist" fare.
That was the biggest WTF moment in the movie for me lol.
Overall though not a bad flick. Would have been disappointed if I dropped a few bucks on it in theatres, but i saw it cheaply in netflix and it was worth it. check it out!
I first saw this film when it was released on a straight-to-video premise way back in 1994 as a Sunday night filler, and to be honest I couldn't remember much about it, except that it wasn't that bad, but nor was it memorable.
Twenty years on, I managed to grab a copy of it again, and finally forced myself to sit through what I anticipated to be an excruciatingly painful event, as I'm just not a great fan of Ray Liotta or Kevin Dillon to say the least, and what with time being so cruel and all, I expected the cheesiest of cheese. How wrong I was! This gem appears to have magically grown better with time!
So yeah it's a bit corny in parts, and the overall plot only SEEMS to be kinda predictable, but there's many an unexpected twist and turn to keep the story moving at an extremely entertaining pace, with some fantastic camera work reminiscent of 'Predator', and some great one-liners to boot.
Knowing that this was pretty much a mash-up of previous classic movies didn't leave a sour taste at all, and I'd watch it again in an instant. Bloody good entertainment, surprisingly minimal on the profanities, (I think I heard only one quickly blurted F-word expletive from Marek throughout), and highly recommended for those 80's/90's action genre buffs.
A generous and solid 8/10 for overall value and stamina.
This movie, though, is based on another book: The Penal Colony by Richard Herley and supposedly it is supposed to be a critique on the prison system. In the film, the prisons are supposed to be money making corporations where prisoners assigned there are reduced to slave labour. Basically there is a hierarchy, and the island Absolom is at the top. Prisoners who prove to be too troublesome to turn into slave labourers are banished to the island and are left to fend for themselves. The prison is nice to drop in small amounts of food, but most of the time the inhabitants must scrounge for themselves.
If this is supposed to be a critique on the prison system, there seems to be a huge lack of it. What I saw in this movie was a treatise on the savagery of humanity, and the warden is actively trying to encourage the savagery. If they are civilised then they might turn against him, so if they are busy fighting, then all the better. The weird thing I noticed, is that the warden personally came to the island to deal with the problem. Thus he was sticking his neck out in a way that was purely illogical. It seemed to be an excuse to get him there to kill him.
Bizarrely, "No Escape" seems to have vaguely predicted the 2011 Libyan conflict. Situated before "The Hunger Games", "Gamer" and "Battle Royale" and after "The Running Man", "Roller Ball" and "Death Race", "Escape from New York", "Beyond Thunderdome", it also continues a trend of caging people and then making them fight, like Gladiators, for salacious audiences.
7.5/10 – Worth one viewing.
John Robbins (Liotta) is a decorated marine sent to a ultra strict maximum security prison for killing his superior officer. He does not stay there for long however, as he is banished to 'Absolum' a monitored island in a guarded stretch of water. Here, prisoners are no longer really prisoners, as there are no rules, no bars, no guards, just you and them. By them I mean "the outsiders", a bunch of savages desperately struggling for survival under the leadership of the vicious dread-locked Walter Marrik (Wilson).
Then there are "the insiders", a society of former and somewhat rehabilitated inmates who live a peaceful and structured life, in a makeshift but well guarded fortress. They live under rules and respect each other, unlike the feral outsiders who have no code of honour.
Classic lines, likable characters and solid action make this a film in its own right. The film boasts many good combat/battle scenes, and the gripping feel of the film sets in early and stays till the end.
If your not into sci-fi or action you may as well leave now, this is one of those films that regular appears late at night on the movie channel and is worth watching because it's a fun no brainer. The best way to describe it is a cross of Mad Max and Fortress the Christopher Lambert Sci-Fi effort. This film is superior to Fortress but falls way short of Mad Max.
Liota is pretty good but this is no where near his quality of performance in Goodfella's and to be honest it doesn't need to be as this is b-movie action fun not Scorsese. He drives the plot along and carries the action scenes off well. Lance Henrikson is reliable as ever and adds to his impressive list of fantasy/sci-fi appearances, Ernie Hudson is OK but will never escape from the isn't that the fourth guy in ghostbusters who didn't have much to do? One for the late night sci-fi / b-movie fans 6/10
Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas") is quite good in the action hero role - one that might usually be reserved for a Schwarzenegger or Stallone. But the real flaw of the film lies in the long sequences in between the good escape sequences and action sets - such as all the extremely unbelievable, plot-driven, corny dialogue.
Dillon (Bunny from "Platoon" and Matt's brother) is OK but his character isn't quite as "cool" as the filmmakers think he is. Henriksen ("Aliens") is good as usual but really the film comes down to Liotta's performance. It drives the movie forward but I can't really say it's anything tremendously special.
- John Ulmer
The new society, on an island thousands of miles away, is inhabited by two groups of people, one a barbaric cult run by a sadist(Stuart Wilson, good as always, hilarious as the villain) and a peaceful society of people (run by Lance Henrikson, also good) who just want to live their lives in harmony. As the two groups butt heads, the main character (played by Ray Liotta, with better acting here than his usual films) just wants to get the heck out of there and battle the fascist society that got him in.
I don't dig the bad reviews. Personally I thought this was very well done. Some bad lines here and there, but not enough to distract attention from the plot. (Which was far superior compared to "Escape from New York")
The corporately (and corruptly) run prison causes Robbins to rebel against the Warden. His rebellion only gets him sent to the most maximum security facility there is - Absolom.
The worst hardcore criminals are just dumped onto the island Absolom to live or die as they can. The island is patrolled by heavily armed helicopters and fenced by impenetrable sea defences.
Two different societies have formed over the years; an evil 'empire' run by Walter Marek that is conflicting with the other, more pacific, group run by The Father.
Resources are kept scarce by the warden as a game to keep the population down by destroying themselves. Who will our hardcore Captain fit in with the best.....
This is one of those lost movies that crops up late at night on TV and you have forgotten just how fantastically cheesy it is.
Liotta is perfect as the soldier, as he has the balance of 'good' guy and psycho about right. The film is a great vehicle for him.
Wilson is good as Merek, but he's doing the same schtick as he did in Lethal 3, and though it's perfectly fine, he gets a little to Alan Rickman toward the end.
Ina role reversal, Henrikson plays the placid father, which, for anyone who knows the actor is quite a good in joke, as he always plays the bad @ss.
The narrative is great, and the set pieces and sets are great for such a low budget.
So if you do catch this film, remember, Liotta is fantastic, It debuted at number 1 at the US box office, and it has the best gun ever in film
The story is somewhat simple and yet some of the complexities and Philosophy about corporate prisons and civilized society are lost in the action and some less than adequate script involvement. But not enough to keep this from being enjoyable escapism.
There are some well done, violent battles and some witticisms that are quite amusing. The villain is venomous and quite the psychopathic comedian. In all, this is quite entertaining stuff that never pretends to be more than it is. A kind of throw-back to Matinée fare of a by-gone era.
The reason why I think "No Escape" works is not because of it's brilliant acting nor because of it's chemistry between it's actors, it's in fact because of the film's great concept which allows the viewer to envision in their mind a place so grimy that anyone would try their best to not get sent to that prison.
Before I watched "No Escape" or even thought about watching this film, I had bought the video game but use to have difficulty playing the game, so this is what enhanced my interest in watching the movie. This movie is a marvel of a gem; it's a shame that most people haven't heard about it.
The movie reminds me very much of "Waterworld" in style of sets, costumes and character depiction but also of Golding's "Lord of the Flies" in theme. Liotta's character in my opinion takes to long to identify itself and by the time it does, too much action takes place to be able to diplomatically take sides.
Campbell however, ably blends mystery and suspense with action and a few twists, creating what I can only define as a weird 'Tim Burton-type' achievement.
Enjoy, but take it with a pinch of salt. Rating:*** (Good)