‘No Escape’ was a movie where it was really hard to root for the main family trying to escape. Watching this movie, your truly wondered why she felt more annoyed at the family rather than fear for their peril and hope them to find safely. After all, Owen Wilson is so darn likable and does have dramatic chops that are even stronger than his comedic chops. Lake Bell does a decent job playing his wife. His daughters, particularly his older daughter are pretty annoying stereotypical children in danger, but that should make it such an effort to root for the family. Upon reflecting on this movie after walking out of the theater, there were plenty of reasons that while your truly wasn’t rooting *against* the nice little all American family, there just weren’t a lot of reasons to root *for* them aside from not wanting to see any innocent person die. Honestly, this review may feel more like a rant and it will contain some minor spoilers, but this isn’t really one of those great films where it’s better going in knowing nothing anyway.
The nice, wholesome family starts out with a bit of the Ugly American syndrome. Sure, in this rough economy, it’s hard not to sympathize with a family that has to start over; but this movie achieves that feat. They stay in a nice hotel and complain about the TV not working, then not being able to find an *American* newspaper. Annie Dwyer (Bell) even comments that they’re not in the third worth, they’re in the fourth world. BooHoo!! Of course, the latter is the fault of every minimum wage worker Jack Dwyer (Wilson) runs into. Then there is the fact that throughout the movie, they expect everyone to help them because they’re a family (seriously, the line “help us, we’re a family,” is uttered multiple times), but other than a brief moment when the rioting initially break out when Owen Wilson shields a woman and a couple of children; the protagonists don’t actually help anyone else. In fact, it feels like they cause a lot of people to get killed including people who help them.
Remember the scene from the trailer where they’re throwing the children from one roof to another? There is a nice Asian man with no lines trying to help them the whole time, and he ends up getting shot and killed. There is a point where they escape into a building, where everyone working there gets killed. This is the motif of the entire movie. The family never says thank you or even takes a moment to acknowledge the trail of bodies between them and the bad guys. If the movie had ended with a scene where the survivors did something like lighting candles for all the people who died instead of the saccharin filled scene the audience got, it would have vastly improved the overall experience. Perhaps if the group of survivors had grown beyond the family, it would have been much easier to root for them. There is one point where the younger daughter drops a beloved stuffed animal and the family shows more remorse for said stuffed animal than for any human life lost. When people die, they are more concerned about covering their daughters’ eyes rather that the fact the PEOPLE ARE DYING! In films like ‘Argo,’ it was much easier to root for the Americans in a dangerous situation in another country because those Americans cared about the people around them. When they made their escape from the American embassy, they also helped Iranian citizens applying for passage to the US escape because they were in danger too. It’s the little things that matter.
The younger daughter isn’t too terrible, but the older daughter is a stupid annoying brat. Her utter stupidity and bratty persona actually puts the family in even more danger on multiple occasions. She actually reminded yours truly so much of Brad Pitt’s annoying daughter’s in ‘World War Z’ that there was a moment of research after getting home. Sterling Jerins, who plays the annoying Lucy Dwyer is indeed Brad Pitt’s younger daughter from ‘World War Z.’ Her character is even more irritating in ‘No Escape,’ but she does have a lot more screen time.
There are a few things to be praised about ‘No Escape.’ Pierce Brosnan tries really hard with what he is given, as does Sahajak Boonthanakit. The set up for the main villain is actually pretty good. He is introduced murdering the Prime Minister of the country in Asia that borders Vietnam. When a member of security sees him, that member slits his own throat rather than face whatever this scar faced villain will do to him. Unfortunately, there is no real character building after that point, so a potentially great set up scene is forgotten by the end of the movie. At best, this movie would be ok to watch on TV if people have nothing better to do when trapped inside with the flu or during a blizzard. It opened nationwide on August 28 and is currently playing in mainstream theaters in the Greater Dayton area.