Sam Gillen (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a Québécois convict in the United States who escapes from Federal custody with the aid of his bank-robbing partner. In their last heist, Sam's partner killed a bank guard, a crime for which Sam was ultimately convicted. Sam's partner is killed in the break, forcing Sam to continue on alone. He sets up camp on a piece of farmland owned by Clydie Anderson (Rosanna Arquette), the widowed mother of two kids, Mike (nicknamed "Mookie") (Kieran Culkin) and Bree (Tiffany Taubman).
While sneaking into Clydie's house to "borrow" some salt, Sam catches sight of Clydie taking a shower. The next morning, Sam is spotted bathing outdoors by Mookie. After saving Clydie, Mookie, and Bree from a trio of intruding thugs, Sam learns that Clydie is holding out from selling her land to property developer Franklin Hale (Joss Ackland), who will be put out of business if he does not get Clydie's land so that he can put a tract house development on it.
Sam stays in Clydie's barn while repairing her late husband's Triumph motorcycle. Meanwhile Hale has one of his men, Mr. Dunston (Ted Levine), try to force Clydie into selling her land. Secretly on Hale's payroll is the corrupt Sheriff Lonnie Poole (Edward Blatchford), who harbors feelings for Clydie.
A jealous Lonnie discovers Sam's true identity and strongly urges him to leave. Sam complies, only to find the state police chasing him. Sam returns to save Clydie from Dunston and Hale, who have forced her to sign a sale agreement in his absence and are about to burn down her house.
Sam decides to turn himself in to the authorities after he realizes that running away was never the right thing to do. He promises Clydie that he will come back someday.Jean-Claude Van Damme as Sam Gillen
Rosanna Arquette as Clydie Anderson
Kieran Culkin as Mike "Mookie" Anderson
Tiffany Taubman as Bree Anderson
Joss Ackland as Franklin Hale
Ted Levine as Mr. Dunston
Edward Blatchford as Sheriff Lonnie Poole
Anthony Starke as Billy
James Greene as country store clerk
Joe Eszterhas wrote the original script with director Richard Marquand with whom he made two films. "The script was taken and destroyed many years later by Jean-Claude Van Damme as Nowhere to Run," said Eszterhas. "It lost its sensitivity, it lost everything. I don't like to remember that movie."
The film was the first in a three picture deal between Van Damme and Columbia Pictures. His fee was $3.5 million. Columbia said the film is ”true to his audience and goes beyond his audience."
Van Damme later said " the script was... not that good. The writer told me he was going to fix everything. I was in his house, he shook my hand, he promised me, but he didn't fix it."
The film had a mostly negative response from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 25% of 20 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 3.8/10.
Nowhere to Run opened January 15, 1993, in 1,745 theaters. In its opening weekend, the film made $8,203,255, at #4 behind Aladdin's tenth weekend, A Few Good Men's sixth, and Alive's first weekend.
The film finally grossed $22,189,039 domestically, just getting back the film's $15 million budget. The film however did perform better internationally, grossing $30,000,000 in other territories for a worldwide gross of $52,189,039.