Film (1994). Pacific Western/Allied Filmmakers/Columbia Tristar. Prod Gale Ann HURD; dir Martin Campbell; screenplay Michael Gaylin, Joel Gross, based on The Penal Colony (1987) by Richard Herley; starring Ray Liotta, Lance Henriksen, Stuart Wilson, Kevin Dillon, Kevin J. O'Conner, Don Henderson, Ian McNeice, Jack Shepherd, Michael Lerner and Ernie Hudson. 115 mins. Colour.
   Curiously, this is one of two future-privatised-prison movies released in 1993/94 and shot in Australia, the other being the fractionally better FORTRESS. Despite Hurd's impeccable credentials as an independent producer of action sf movies, this is a messy internationalised adaptation of a very British original novel. Apart from the first five minutes, there is nothing futuristic about this world of 2022 (1997 in the novel) in which private corporations run prisons, andthe hardest cases are dumped on a high-security island (actually Queensland rainforest) to rot. Two tribes exist on the island, thecivilised Insiders and the barbarian and psychotic Outsiders. (Among the myriad visible sources are ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, LORD OF THE FLIES and MAD MAX.) Captain Robbins (Liotta), imprisoned for killing his superiorofficer as a protest against the slaughter by US forces of 342 women and children, is the hero who battles the evil Outsiders, helps the Insiders, and eventually escapes to tell the world about governmental cover-ups, corrupt prisons and wartime slaughters. Narrative glitches abound, and little attempt is made to confront questions of future penology; there is, however, a genuine bid to characterise the two societies that have arisen on the island, and there are surprisingly contemplative moments in what is otherwise an adolescent action POW escape movie. But how could the corporation running this corrupt system possibly make money from it, since its elaborate security systems are clearly incredibly expensive?

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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