No Escape (1994 film)

No Escape, released in some countries as Escape from Absolom, is a 1994 American action/science fiction film directed by Martin Campbell. It stars Ray Liotta, Lance Henriksen, Stuart Wilson, Kevin Dillon, Michael Lerner and Ernie Hudson. It was based on the 1987 novel The Penal Colony by Richard Herley. In a dystopian future, a former Marine serves life imprisonment on an island inhabited by savage and cannibalistic prisoners.

No Escape
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMartin Campbell
Produced byJake Eberts
Gale Anne Hurd
Screenplay byMichael Gaylin
Joel Gross
Based onThe Penal Colony
by Richard Herley
Music by
CinematographyPhil Meheux
Edited byTerry Rawlings
Distributed bySavoy Pictures (United States)[2]
Columbia Pictures (International)[3]
Release date
  • April 21, 1994 (1994-04-21) (USA Film Festival)
  • April 29, 1994 (1994-04-29) (United States)
  • October 27, 1994 (1994-10-27) (Australia)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$20 million[4]
Box office$15.3 million[5]


In 2022, the penal system is run by corporations, and prisoners are 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; 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 being 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 group of prisoners known as the Outsiders, led by a sociopath named Walter Marek and whose only rule is The Law of the Jungle. The abandoned island resort, complete with dilapidated houses and a swimming pool, is where the Outsiders have established a base. Marek forces Robbins to fight one of his men for 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 the Outsider's camp. He is pursued through the jungle and cornered at the edge of a high cliff before being shot in the neck by blowgun darts. After falling into the river below, another prisoner group called the Insiders retrieves him.

Led by a terminally-ill doctor called the Father, the Insiders 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 kidnapping. Robbins learns that the Insiders are heavily outnumbered by the Outsiders and that he is the only person to have ever escaped from Marek's camp. The weapon he stole is appropriated for the good of the community.

After helping repel an attack by the Outsiders, Father notes Robbins' abilities 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. Gunships patrol 50 miles off the coast, and infrared satellite technology monitors thermal activity, such as large fires or explosions.

The Insiders have secretly built a scan-proof boat and launch it to tell the outside world about Absolom. However, the boat is destroyed by attack helicopters, causing Father to believe there is an informer among them.

Robbins learns about a new boat and demands a seat, still determined to escape. After learning that the engine needs a distributor, a part Robbins saw while in Marek's camp, he offers to retrieve it in exchange for passage; 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 Robbins' weapon. Robbins escapes a planned execution with the help of an Insider spy, infuriating Marek.

Knowing Marek will attack, and 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. Most of the Outsiders die, and the Warden intervenes when the satellites are triggered. Father dies while defending Robbins from Marek. After Robbins kills Marek, he finds the new boat incinerated and evidence that King has killed the engineer. Robbins forces King to give new coordinates to the Warden for where to land his helicopter on the island. Robbins hijacks the helicopter, throws the Warden out, and vows to spread the truth. King and the Warden are left behind as unseen Outsiders close in on them.



No Escape holds a rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews; the average rating is 5.1/10.[6]

Video game

No Escape, a video game based on the film, was released in 1994 for Sega Genesis & Super Nintendo Entertainment System.[7] A Sega CD version was planned and even advertised, but was cancelled for unknown reasons.[8]

Home media

No Escape was released on VHS & Laserdisc in 1994. The DVD & VHS was released by HBO in 1998. Internationally, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment released all DVD & VHS in regions. in 2018, Umbrella Entertainment released the film on Blu-Ray & DVD with original aspect ratio in Australia and includes four tv spots and trailer[9]. Nameless Media/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment also released on Blu-Ray in Germany and includes with Mediabook covers.


  1. "No Escape (1994)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  2. Fabrikant, Geraldine (1995-01-30). "Savoy Pictures' High and Low Roads". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  3. "Sony Pictures Entertainment folds low-budget". 1997-04-11. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  4. {{cite web|url=
  5. "No Escape". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  6. "No Escape". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  7. "No Escape". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  8. "No Escape". Sega Retro. Retrieved 2015-08-04.
  9. "Escape from Absolom (AKA No Escape) on Blu-Ray". 2018-07-04. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
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