ESCAPE FROM ABSOLOM
No Escape comes from New Zealand-born director Martin Campbell. Martin Campbell started out with some excellent tv work Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983), Edge of Darkness (1985) and the witty genre film Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) and then went on to make the likes of the James Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006), as well as The Mask of Zorro (1998), Vertical Limit (2000) and The Legend of Zorro (2005), the film remake of Edge of Darkness (2010) and the DC Comics superhero adaptation Green Lantern (2011).
Martin Campbell has a good eye for widescreen action the attacks on the camp and fight scenes all look good. However, as storyteller, Campbell allows the films sympathies and the plot devices to lapse into stock cliches. The morality that No Escape operates on is so simplistically reduced that it infuriates. The film sets up difficult to believe black-and-white cliches the good guys are peaceful and community-oriented, the bad guys are brutal and disorganised. It is not a credible situation the good guys are so nice and peaceful it is almost impossible to believe they are also a group of hardened killers and defiant escapees that the prison system is supposed to have given up on. The hero is one of the action genres familiar wrongly judged innocents taking on a corrupt society. Here there is a certain ugly morality at work. The heros attack on the corruption of society, including cold-bloodedly shooting his superior officer, is meant to serve as justification for the films violence ie. because the society is corrupt, he is justified in executing a superior officer. The films opening title card uses the corporatisation of prison systems and, in effect capitalism, as a convenient explain-all for the corrupt system but this is another of the sweeping cliches the film uses, as we learn no more about this future society than these vague blanket explanations.
No Escape is long and obviously thinks it is an epic. Where the few brief moments of originality come is in its depiction of a from-scratch culture built around salvaged debris there is some inventive production design here. The one thing that No Escape does show is that divorced from ex-husband James Cameron, producer Gale Ann Hurd lacks a talent for picking good genre projects. No Escape lost out heavily at the box-office.
During production, the film went through a number of title changes. Originally, it was announced under the title of the book it is based on, The Penal Colony (1987). The producers presumably did not want people to mistake it for a porn film and changed it to The Prison Colony before releasing it with the nondescript title No Escape and retitling it internationally as the more interesting Escape from Absolom.