NO ESCAPE – Film Review

When starting a new life becomes more of a battle to stay alive. Starring Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan.

In cinemas: September 4th 2015
RATING: 3/5 ***

As soon as I saw the trailer for No Escape, I was intrigued for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to see how Owen Wilson would do taking on a more ‘serious’ role. Secondly, the incredible ending shot to the trailer which gave me tingles – see for yourself:

The story revolves around Jack Dwyer (Wilson) and his family, who relocate from Texas to an unnamed Southeast Asian nation after Jack’s unsuccessful business venture back home. He is employed by a water company with plans to improve the water quality in the country. However, unbeknownst to Jack, they arrive just as a political uprising is about to take place, with armed rebels chanting ‘blood for water’ in response to the foreign takeover of the regions water. And so, as all foreigners become targets, Dwyer very quickly realises he is part of the hunted.

I must say, I could easily picture a sequel: ‘No Escape: What Happened After,’ as there’s no way this family could’ve survived their ordeal without a host of lifelong issues. The couple’s two young girls see bloodied corpses every five seconds, and at one point, Jack’s daughter Lucy is forced to hold a gun to his head, while a rebel holds a gun to her own. To save his family, Jack murders one of the enemy, while his wife Annie (Lake Bell) watches on in shock… only for her to kill one herself ten minutes down the line. Holy crap.

I’ll give credit to Owen WIlson, I feel like he handled the role reasonably well. It was nice to see some shades to his performance. I would’ve liked to see a touch more vulnerability though – we see moments of fear, moments of being completely at a loss, moments of love, but I felt what was missing was moments of desparation. Of course, he is the hero of the film and we know he will win out in the end – but what I wanted to see was a moment of our hero ‘refusing the call,’ to cite classic story structure. I wanted to see Jack at a low point, considering for just a moment that maybe he and his family might not make it out of the madness. We see the complete rollercoaster of emotions in Annie, but I didn’t feel like this story was about her: it was about a father bringing his family into a mess, then needing to get them out of it. Regardless, Wilson has shown he can do more than just his standard chick-flick, so ten points to him.

Just as with my previous review, again the theme of migration came up for me in reflecting on the film. It was certainly a change to see Western characters placed in a position where they become the refugees, rather than those in a position to provide (or more recently, refuse) refuge. The climax of the film sees the family seeking refuge at the Vietnamese border, and is an absolute corker of a moment. I won’t spoil it, but a clever twist will leave you on the edge of your seat, with a mixture of despair and ‘OMG’ running through your mind.

While I understand the overall feeling the film tries to invoke – a constantly moving, rushed, energetic vibe to keep up with the family’s own frantic movement – sometimes that pace in the camerawork left me squinting rather than squealing. It was hard to focus in moments as the camera’s attempts in creating that rush just left me wondering what on earth I was looking at. There were some beautifully shot moments though, particularly the slow release of tension in the scene where Annie first discovers there are rebels outside her hotel room.

Though it has some flaws, No Escape is still an engaging film with solid performances. If you’re a fan of a nail-biter, this’ll be well worth your time.