“No Escape” was released theatrically across the country starting today through The Weinstein Company.
After his company imploded on itself, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) took his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two daughters and moved his family from the familiarity of the United States and transplanted them to the foreign country of Asia. Along with other American investors, Jack now works for a water company located in Thailand.
Jack and his family are soon at the center of a violent revolution and all because the company he works for is now completely run by Americans. All American tourists are suddenly at risk of being shot on sight or worse. Even with the vicious attacks and ongoing struggle to survive Jack knows he has to protect his family at all costs. As a last ditch effort, they try to find sanctuary at the American embassy.
From Drew and John Erick Dowdle, the brothers responsible for “Quarantine” and “As Above, So Below,” the action thriller “No Escape” begins with the prime minister of Thailand being assassinated which immediately draws comparison to “Zoolander.” Not only did Owen Wilson also star in that, but Derek Zoolander was hypnotized by Mugatu to kill the prime minister of Malaysia. The film seems to put you in this doubtful mindset because of it, but is surprisingly suspenseful and incredibly intense.
There’s a ton of ridiculous material in “No Escape” like being forced to listen to Pierce Brosnan butcher a song by Huey Lewis and the News, Jack and Annie encouraging their daughter to urinate in her pants, the extremely predictable helicopter scene, and every run-and-hide sequence playing out in the same fashion. The Dwyer family spends most of the film hiding under debris, behind giant banners, and even underneath a boat and it conveniently works the majority of the time without anyone properly examining the location.
There’s this tense moment where the Dwyer family has to jump from one rooftop to the other in order to escape a plethora of Thai men with guns, but the sequence loses any gusto it may have originally had when slow-motion is added to the mix and one of Jack’s daughters nearly throws him over the edge. Everything seems to have this humorous undertone while the family is risking their lives in order to just stay ten steps ahead of their enemies.
A believable aspect of the film is Jack’s children’s reactions. Obviously adults are going to act differently in a situation like this, but Jack’s kids are a liability just because they’re around. Lucy (Sterling Jerins) sneaks off to the pool all by herself and is eventually forced to point a gun at her father’s face. Meanwhile, Beeze (Claire Geare) is constantly complaining about trivial things like being hungry, wanting to go home, or having to use the restroom. You’re about to be shot to death and you want your father to risk his life for a freaking teddy bear? Needless to say the children get on your last nerve; realistically so but still annoying.
The acting in the film is better than it has any right to be. Owen Wilson portrays a desperate father teetering on the brink of insanity because he’s trying to do what’s best for them quite well while Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare are believably terrified. Pierce Brosnan has a small role as Hammond; a middle aged vacationing man who has been to Thailand 15 times. He turns out to be a huge asset to the Dwyer family’s survival. Brosnan is humorous and knowledgeable in the role and his precious minutes of screen time are better than anything he was able to accomplish in “The November Man.”
However Lake Bell is the crowning achievement of “No Escape.” Bell was absolutely fantastic in the 2013 comedy “In a World…” which revolved around the voice-over industry. Her talent as an actress shines every time she’s on screen in “No Escape.” Bell is emotional and desperate to see her family survive as Annie Dwyer. She rounds out the performances in a way that makes them all stronger together as a whole, which is all any movie cast could ask for.
“No Escape” lacks the proper depth and variety that a memorable action thriller often has. The run-and-hide formula wears quite thin when it’s combined with shaky camera techniques and the same end result every time it’s used. “No Escape” is savagely intense at times and abhorrently devastating at others, but it’s only entertaining at surface level. If you ever stop to use your brain you realize that the film is this nonstop freight train barreling towards a steep cliff for an hour and forty minutes. There are no detours or any other passengers worth meeting along the way. “No Escape” is only a speeding locomotive dead set on throwing itself off track. Naturally, as an observer, all you can do is watch as this one trick pony crashes in a massive fiery explosion. As the fire dwindles, that rush of adrenaline wears off and “No Escape” is a distant memory.