No Escape (1994)

"Prisons have become big business." - Title card explaining imprisonment
in the year 2022

Cross MAD MAX with LORD OF THE FLIES and you've got the idea behind NO
ESCAPE, a lousy prison-in-a-jungle pic. from producer-who-knows-better
Gale Anne Hurd (ALIENS, THE ABYSS).

The story introduces Robbins (Ray Liotta), a Marine captain convicted of
murder and sent up the river and across the ocean to an island penal
colony with no guards and one rule: stay alive. This "resort community"
is controlled by two warring factions: the savage Outsiders (led by
soft-spoken Stuart Wilson) and the peaceful Insiders (led by
softer-spoken Lance Henriksen). But Robbins, who has a genetically
traced problem with authority, doesn't want in on either.

For about thirty minutes, NO ESCAPE is the perfect tonic to a sans
action spring. The locales are lush, the premise is punchy, and Liotta
is the last action hero we'd expect to be engaging. The man can act and
his early scenes with Wilson, who plays the lively leader of the
Outsiders, have a nice, lazy charm.

Watch a staged fight between Robbins and "Ralph, our director of
athletic activities" for a friendly nod to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

Once our hero goes outside the Outsiders (and inside the Insiders), the
plot machinery grinds to a halt and NO ESCAPE becomes just that. Robbins
spends the rest of the film seeking salvation in a ramshackle village
that looks a little too much like GILLIGAN'S ISLAND to be taken

There are a couple of brief battles to help break up the monotony, but
director Martin Campbell doesn't do very well with any more than three
people fighting at one time.  He's better than, say, Kevin Reynolds, but
not the *best* talent to effectively tingle the testosterone.

The gore is pretty good, though. Watch for a dandy beheading and a
*great* impaling.

NO ESCAPE stars no women (!) and, considering the number of men shown in
close quarters, could use a stronger sexual subtext to be believable.
But this is Hollywood and Gale Anne Hurd *already* has a pretty large
set of cojones.

NOTE:  Gripes to the Six Forks for poor sound quality in theater number
two. Distortion sucks. Heh heh heh.

BOTTOM LINE:  Lousy prison-in-a-jungle pic that's worth watching for all
of thirty minutes.

Grade: D+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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