I don’t know if I’ve walked into a screening with less confidence than No Escape this year. It’s seemingly an action film starring Owen Wilson (ruh roh!), co-starring Pierce Brosnan who despite being a worthy Bond still delivers most genres better than action, and Lake Bell for whom this week’s Man Up seems a much more apt piece of casting.
The central premise doesn’t bode well either. A Texan family arrives in a South East Asian country to settle and work on an infrastructure project just as the government is violently overthrown, with an ensuing purge of westerners.
When action films take on these sorts of nuanced political complexities, the results tend to be cultural insensitivity and brain numbing violence of Rambo-like proportions.
On top of all that, the film has had its release delayed by months.
All of which explains the foreboding premonition that No Escape would live up to its name in all the wrong ways. Which just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a film by its title (and stars and premise). For No Escape is actually very, very good. Far from mindless action, this is rather a geopolitical thriller that uses each violent act – and there are many – to fuel the tension and sense of impending doom.
Wilson and Bell are excellent as parents pushed well beyond their limits to defend their two daughters. Each mini-escape only traps them deeper in a terrifyingly believable nightmare.
Writer-director John Erick Dowdle deserves every plaudit for the style of story telling and visual world building, at times converting what should be clichéd plot devices into suspense-filled sequences that twist and turn beyond recognition.
No Escape is an edge of your seat thrill ride that satisfies both the brain and the adrenal gland, but will do no end of harm to your sense of family safety. See it. Then go home and kiss your kids / pets / parents or teddy bear.
‘No Escape’ Movie Times