No Escape (2015)

No Escape (2015)
  • Time: 101 min
  • Genre: Action | Thriller
  • Director: John Erick Dowdle
  • Cast: Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan, Lake Bell


An intense international thriller, No Escape centers on an American businessman (Wilson) as he and his family settle into their new home in Southeast Asia. Suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a violent political uprising, they must frantically look for a safe escape as rebels mercilessly attack the city. Directed by John Erick Dowdle and written together with his brother Drew, No Escape stars Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan and Lake Bell.


  • Working well with its elemental ingredients, No Escape is a briskly paced and serviceable action thriller whose cheap emotional manipulations and borderline xenophobia leave a sour aftertaste.

    Set in an unnamed and politically unstable nation, the film begins with the country’s corrupt leader being assassinated by revolutionaries. It is unfortunate then that American engineer Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) has just been hired by a Western corporation to work on improving the country’s water supply. Jack arrives at the hotel with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and his two daughters Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare), and is dismayed to discover that the telephones, television, and internet are down all over the city. Fair enough, but surely they would have been fully functional in his hometown of Austin, Texas as a quick Google search would have surely warned him to stay far and away from this dangerous country.

    Barely 12 hours pass before Jack sets off to buy a newspaper only to be caught in the middle of a standoff between the armed rebels and the city police in riot gear. Director John Erick Dowdle employs the first of many slow-motion flourishes as bodies are bloodied and beaten. Screams establish themselves as the permanent soundtrack to the movie. Jack races through the chaos and confusion, arriving back at the hotel in time to see an American tourist get shot in the back of the head by a group of rebels, who are clamouring for more Caucasian blood.

    From thereon in, Jack and his family flee from one perilous situation to another, barely thinking of anything else but their immediate survival. Indeed, the first half hour of their ordeal offers relentless and often gripping action as the Dwyer family narrowly escape the rebels, who are knocking down door after door and hacking away at any and all foreigners. The Dwyers make their way to the hotel roof and join the other survivors, who inform them that the rebels have seized control and are killing any Westerns who work for Jack’s new employers. That bit of exposition done, Dowdle doubles down on the action, putting the Dwyers through ever more extreme paces though none can match the downright drastic and utterly laughable measure Jack takes of flinging both his girls from one rooftop to another.

    The propulsion quickly accelerates into monotonous tedium, and one soon wonders if and when the film will ever end. Wilson is not exactly the first person that enters the mind for this type of role, but his laconic stoner persona somehow works within No Escape’s albeit flimsy structure. Bell, a last-minute replacement for a pregnant Michelle Monaghan, displays some gumption in an otherwise thankless and thinly written role.

    A grizzled Pierce Brosnan cashes a paycheck as Hammond, a British expat who has quite the knack for showing up at the most opportune moments to save the family. He also serves as the film’s dubious moral compass, commenting on the uprising as the natives’ payback for western corporate colonialism. Except this all comes off as pure claptrap. For one thing, there’s no shading to the rebels’ motivations and all are broadly sketched as bloodthirsty savages. For another, Brosnan utters this line with the thickest, fakest Cockney accent this side of holiday panto.

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  • “Look I came here more fort he women…
    Well … partially for the women.
    I came here to pave the way for you.”

    “No Escape” puts the spotlight back again on the undervalued discipline of dwarf-tossing. This favorite bar sport, as practiced by Aragorn in “The Lord of the Rings” (first in the mines of Moria, and then at the Battle of Helm’s Deep), is also used here in the most nerve-provoking moment. Let me briefly mention that this film is definitely not suitable for heart patients and pregnant women. You can expect this movie to be extremely exciting. Up to a certain point that is. Because ultimately this film evolves into an implausible story. The number of desperate situations are shown one after the other in such a fast pace, that it feels like an ultra long survival film. The moments that the unfortunates were saved in the nick of time, are uncountable.

    The cover of the film immediately reveals which way this is going. It gives you the impression of being a cheap B-movie from the 80s. You might expect something different after noticing that Pierce Brosnan and Owen Wilson are playing in it. No way! It is and it remains an ordinary, mindless escape-movie. A type of movie with very exciting scenes and recurring situations where the imminent victims are saved out of their predicament at the very last moment.

    The only thing that made me curious for this movie, was how Wilson would handle a more serious role. He’s known as an actor in funny (“Wedding Crashers” for example) and less funny (“The internship”) comedies. Also joining corny tearjerkers (like “Marley & Me”) is something he likes to do once and a while. So I wanted to know how this would end up. And surprisingly he did his job reasonably well. Besides some educational moments with Wilson relapsing into his familiar style, he still manages to play convincingly as the concerned father who’ll do anything to save his family from a certain death. Even his prominent nose couldn’t distract me (which is usually the case). On the other hand you have an actor like Pierce Brosnan, who frequently appeared in lame comedies (except “A long way down”. I personally thought this was a successful film). And now he takes on the role of an secret agent once again. To be honest, this was the most exciting character although his appearance was a bit limited. And it wasn’t really a big surprise when he showed up at the right moment.

    Eventually this is just a fairly superficial and not very innovative film. Take any zombie movie, replace the zombies with Asians and let it happen in a fictional country, you get something similar. And add two scared teenage daughters who have stupid requests at the wrong time over and over again. I don’t think I would be nagging about being hungry when I was in such a life-threatening situation. There are also some absurd, ridiculous fragments in this film. Among other things, the moment Jack enters a conference hall where a meeting is in progress. Despite the threatening crowd outside the hotel, slaughtering innocent citizens mercilessly and attacking the hotel, the Asian participants calmly proceed in following the presentation. That was a little bit unlikely.

    It was to be expected that this film would cause some commotion in these particular regions. Because of its alleged political incorrectness and the tactless portrayal of the local population as primitive, bloodthirsty plundering barbarians. Apparently some Asians were offended by that. But that’s the only fuss this film will make. The image of an average family that ends up in an extremely dangerous situation, is correct. But the image of the fearless hero who can guide them through it unscathed, doesn’t fit Wilson. What remains is a ridiculous movie.

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  • ‘No Escape’ is a movie full of suspense and it really keeps you on the edge of your seat almost the whole time. Pretty graphic which is to my liking, well written with an excellent plot. All in all I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes action and suspense.
    The casting is good with surprising roles for both Pierce Brosnan and Owen Wilson in different roles than you would normally see them. The film has a pace that keeps you alert all the time.
    I know this movie didn’t get the best reviews yet, but for me… all in all, it’s a good flick that keeps you in suspense!

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