Film Review: No Escape


Due for release in UK cinemas this Friday is American action thriller No Escape starring Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan.

No Escape tells the story of an American family caught up in a war zone. The story starts with Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two daughters travelling on a plane to an unnamed Southeast Asian country for Jack’s new job. Unknown to the family, a violent rebellion is about to erupt in their new home with armed rebels hell bent on executing foreigners, particularly Americans. The film follows Jack and his family frantically looking for a safe escape route with the help of a mysterious British “tourist” Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) as they try and make their way to the American Embassy.

If you’re looking for a tense, edge-of-your-seat, high action thriller then No Escape is the film for you. From opening scene in which Prime Minister is assassinated to the tense finale, there is literally no break from the action. In fact, the back-to-back action scenes makes the film a little suffocating at times as you literally have no time to catch your breath. Yet despite mixed reviews in the press, No Escape is a pretty decent film in parts.

The fight scenes are certainly convincing, brutal, graphic and incredibly terrifying. The cast performances are also strong with Owen Wilson convincing as the desperate father teetering on the brink of insanity and Lake Bell bringing a strong performance as Annie, the emotional mother. Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare give a believable terrified performance as Jack and Annie’s children, even if the older one is an annoying brat at times. But the true star of the film is Pierce Brosnan, who despite his small role, is humorous, knowledgeable and convincing as Hammond, the mysterious British “tourist” who helps the family.

No Escape isn’t without its flaws however. Firstly, the background story is practically non-existent, leaving the audience with plenty of unanswered questions. For example, we don’t really know why has the family moved to Asia or what happened to Jack’s company. We’re also kept in the dark as to the real motivation behind the attack (a one-liner explains this has something to do with the Western corporate colonialism of Jack’s company but that’s about it). Consequently, the plot is a little weak and lacks proper depth and variety. The film has also been criticised for its “borderline xenophobia” for its depiction of Southeast Asians. As one journalist said “almost every Asian character is either a ruthless murderer or anonymous collateral damage” and after watching the film, I’m inclined to agree with her.

John Erick Dowdle’s direction (who also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Drew Dowdle) is also a little sketchy at times. For example, a tense moment when Dwyer family has to jump from one rooftop to another is spoilt by an unnecessary slow motion scene which ruins the suspense and makes it unintentionally comic. The run-and-hide formula also wears thin with the shaky camera techniques getting on your nerves at times.

If you can overlook the sketchy plot and shaky camera work, No Escape is actually a half decent suspenseful thriller. At the very least, the non-stop action scenes will certainly keep you entertained.

2.5 out of 5 stars

No Escape is released in UK cinemas on 4 September 2015