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No Escape, released in some territories as Escape from Absolom is a 1994 action/science fiction film shot in Queenslandmarker starring Ray Liotta as John Robbins. As a former American Marine serving life imprisonment on an island inhabited by savage and cannibalistic prisoners for killing his commanding officer, the commandant of a Benghazi military base, he finds refuge with another group of prisoners known as the 'Insiders', who have formed a crude civilization in the interests of mutual protection against the savage 'Outsiders'.

The movie was directed by Martin Campbell, and the story was based on 1987's The Penal Colony by Richard Herley.


Actor Role
Ray Liotta Robbins
Lance Henriksen The Father
Stuart Wilson Marek
Kevin Dillon Casey
Kevin J. O'Connor Stephano
Don Henderson Killian
Ian McNeice King
Jack Shepard Dysart
Michael Lerner Warden
Ernie Hudson Hawkins
Russell Kiefel Iceman
Brian M. Logan Scab
Cheuk-Fai Chan Skull
David Wenham Hotel Guard

Plot summary

In the 21st century (film taking place in 2022), the penal system is now run by corporations, with prisoners seen as corporate assets.

Ex-soldier John Robbins is imprisoned for life for the murder of his superior officer, who had deliberately ordered Robbins to lead a helicopter assault on a civilian village during a war which was going very badly for the USAmarker, which was supposedly a source of "bio-weapons fire". In the assault, (which was later covered up and for which Robbins was awarded a medal) 342 women and children were "vaporized". This causes Robbins to have flashbacks of them screaming and dying over a backdrop of flames.

Robbins had escaped from two "level 5" maximum security prisons so he has now been imprisoned in a "level 6" facility run by the (unnamed) Warden. After the Warden reviews his file and meets him face to face, Robbins is thrown in a cell, where a fellow prisoner offers him food, and hastily tells him about "Absolom" , a place which is more feared than the facility. The cellmate is discovered for hoarding food and sharing it with Robbins and the Warden demands that Robbins carries out the punishment - 'lashes' with a high-voltage prod. This is clearly an attempt to break Robbins but he refuses to take the prod. The Warden threatens to kill the cellmate so Robbins takes the prod, quickly seizes the Warden demonstrating his martial prowess. Having made his point, he releases the Warden and is ruthlessly beaten by the guards and then gets taken to Absolom.

After being dropped off by gunship, Robbins is captured by the 'Outsiders', who are led by a sociopath called Marek. The island had been previously been a private retreat as there are ramshackle structures including a dilapidated house and a swimming pool which is where the Outsiders have made their base. Marek informs Robbins that the average life expectancy of a prisoner is six months but he had been there for seven years and then insists he fight one of his men for his amusement. Robbins impresses them by killing the opponent and Marek offers Robbins a position within his gang, in response to which Robbins knocks Marek into a pool and steals a rocket launcher that Marek carries. He flees from the Outsiders and is pursued through the jungle, avoiding crude mantraps. However he ends up trapped at the edge of a high cliff and is shot in the neck by a blowgun dart. He falls into the river at the cliff's base, washes up on some rocks and retrieved by another group, the 'Insiders.'

At the Insider's camp which is on the edge of the jungle with their backs to the ocean, he meets the Insiders (including Hawkins, Stephano, Casey, Killian, King and Dysart) led by a man who calls himself 'The Father'. The Father put together a co-operative community with laws as opposed to the raw anarchy of the outsiders. The Insiders total around 100 citizens whils the various Outsider groups total 600. Robbins learns that he is the only person to have ever challenged and escape from Marek and that the weapon he stole has been appropriated for the good of the community. The Father notes his resourcefulness and asks if Robbins will join him. He refuses and says he wants to leave Absolom, and The Father orders to Robbins to be taken to the shore where he learns from the men that there are gunships 50 miles off the coast and that they are closely electronically monitored by satellite infrared equipment. The Outsiders get supplied by airdrops whilst the Insiders make use of flotsam and whatever they can grow.

During a Christmas party at the Insider's camp, Robbins informs The Father that he plans on leaving at daybreak. The same night Marek stages a raid on the Insiders' camp. An alarm warns the Insiders of impending attack, from a spy in the Outsiders camp. Robbins decides to join the battle at the fence as the Outsiders attack the Insider's camp. During the attack, the Father is stabbed and taken to his quarters which are soon infiltrated by Marek but Robbins fights him off and he flees with the retreating Outsiders.

Robbins wakes up early the next morning and watches a craft floating away from the Island. He suddenly realises that the Father's plans for building a new tolerant society are a smokescreen for his real plans. The Insiders are planning to escape on a boat and let the general public know about Absolom. Without warning, a gunship appears from behind a rocky outcropping and blows up the boat. The boat's builder, who happens to be a mechanical wizard, says he could build a new boat but that he first needs a distributor. Robbins tells the Father that he had seen one in the Outsider's camp. He makes a deal with The Father for a space on the boat if he goes to the Outsider's camp and gets the distributor.

Casey, a young Insider that befriended Robbins, follows him but gets caught in one of the Outsider's traps and is captured. Robbins tries to rescue Casey, but is caught by Marek. They are both thrown in the swimming pool and ordered to fight to the death, where Casey, who is little more than a teenager who was only sent to prison because of a failed kidnapping where he was the getaway driver, falls on Robbins' weapon and is killed. Robbins is then thrown into a cell by Marek to be killed the next day and subsequently served for dinner but is rescued by a spy that the Insiders had inserted into the Outsider's camp. He warns Robbins that Marek has united the Outsider gangs and that Marek plans to annihilate the Insiders once and for all.

Robbins makes it back to the Insider's camp where he learns that The Father is dying from Hodgkin's lymphoma (the Father knows this as he is a former surgeon). The Father tells him his story and that everything has been recorded in his journal for the past 13 years. Robbins gives the inventor the distributor and takes charge of the camp's defense.

The Outsiders attack only to find the camp empty save for a handful of chickens wandering around. Robbins climbs to the top of a bastion and fires the rocket gun, causing a large explosion, which wrecks half the camp and kills many of the Outsiders. The rest flee back into the jungle, pursued by the formerly hidden Insiders. The explosion has also registered on the satellite monitors which the Warden fears will alert the authorities to the existence of Absolom and takes a gunship to investigate. Marek remains to kill the defiant Robbins but is defeated with help of a last second distraction from The Father who is mortally wounded and dies.

Robbins pronounces The Father's death to the Insiders and announces the plans to rebuild the camp when another explosion sounds from the direction of the beach. He finds the boat destroyed, the inventor dead, but in the hands of the inventor is a clue as to the identity of the killer: King. Robbins confronts King and finds a small radio transmitter that he has been communicating with the Warden. Robbins forces him to inform the Warden that his landing zone is swarming with Outsiders and it should be changed to a new location. The gunship lands and the few meagre guards are quickly overpowered by a group of Insiders. They toss the warden out where he and King are left vulnerable to the rapidly approaching Outsiders.

Robbins is shown successfully flying the gunship over a cheering Insider village and then over the island, away from Absolom with several Insiders and the Father's journal in his hand.

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