Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: No Escape

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
If you can get past the retrograde sequences of white Americans being terrorized by hordes of crazed foreigners abroad and the film's occasionally confusing politics, John Erick Dowdle's "No Escape" is an intense low budget thriller.

In the picture, Owen Wilson plays a bigwig at an American company that will take over the water supply in a section of a southeast Asian country that I'm guessing is Indonesia (although the film was shot in Thailand) and, shortly after Wilson's Jack Dwyer and his family arrive, he comes to find that the natives aren't too happy about that.

No sooner than he, his wife (Lake Bell) and two little girls have checked into their hotel, which is swarming with Americans and Europeans, a massive riot begins, pitting men with all sorts of sharp weapons against the police. The picture opens with the nation's prime minister/president being assassinated, so it's a little unclear how exactly this apparent coup ties in with the violent protesters going after Wilson and all Americans involved with the water supply situation.

Dwyer and his family escape the marauding masked men - who shoot, stab and bludgeon virtually any non-native who crosses their path - with the help of Pierce Brosnan, who plays some sort of CIA operative who happens to be staying at the same hotel.

The first of Dwyer and family's many perilous escapes - the film's title is a little misleading, no? - involves he and his wife throwing their young children from one very high rooftop to another. During other sequences, Dwyer and Bell's Annie are captured and just when you think they are about to be killed, well.

As I'd mentioned before, the film is occasionally a bit retrograde as it portrays the unassuming Americans abroad fleeing repeatedly from the scary foreigners. And while most of the southeast Asians are portrayed as machete wielding maniacs, there are also a few stoic ones on-hand who, of course, put their safety in danger to help Dwyer and company.

Also, there is a sequence in which Brosnan's character essentially places the blame on western nations and organizations such as the CIA for the melee that ensues. So, the combination of this speech with the occasionally crass portrayals of the natives makes for a slightly confusing mix.

However, "No Escape" is an example of a low budget genre film done well. It's quickly paced and often intense. Wilson and Bell are mostly there to react to outbreaks of violence, rather than act out the parts of fully formed characters, but they do well, all things considered. In other words, don't go looking for a serious movie about U.S. corporations meddling in third world countries. But if you're down for an exciting and well-shot white knuckle thriller, "No Escape" is a pretty good one.

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