1994 Directed by Martin Campbell. Starring Ray Liotta, Lance Henricksen, Stuart Wilson, Kevin Dillon, Kevin J. O'Connor, Michael Lerner.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 6, 1994
In the year 2022, all films will be a fusion of Papillon and The Road Warrior. No, wait. Sorry, wrong notes. In the year 2022, life-sentence prisoners are relegated to a remote island prison, Absalom, where they are left to fend for themselves, and as likely as not, die. Ray Liotta is Marine Captain John Robbins, sentenced to life for killing an officer, and dropped by helicopter (very loud helicopter, if you happen to see this in Dolby Digital Stereo, as I did) onto this island paradise. Here he encounters the fierce, factionalized Outsiders, the worst of the worst led by the cannibalistic Marek (a gleefully villainous Wilson), and then, upon his escape, the pastoral, environmentally-conscious Insiders, led by the wise and wizened Father (Henricksen). Basically it's the Crips and Zendik Farm, if you ask me. Like Steve McQueen before him, Liotta's fallen Marine yearns to breathe free and escape by boat. And, like Mel Gibson before him, he seems to be the only one who can get anything done around here. Explosions, bloodshed, explosions, periodontal disease, explosions, nice leather tunics, and more explosions ensue as our hapless Insiders fend off the increasing attacks from their enemies. There's little if anything new here, just loud violence and dirty, poorly shorn prisoners running around and dying badly. Not that this isn't a fun movie, if you go for that sort of thing -- I do, and I thought it was a hoot up to a point. After the first hour or so, though, it all gets a bit monotonous, what with Liotta's one-note characterization and Henricksen's woefully under-written role. Admittedly, cinematographer Phil Meheux turns in some absolutely stunning camerawork, but in the end it's all for naught. There are only so many ways to blow something up before it gets boring, the cardinal sin of the action-adventure genre.