Traveling to a country that is not your own is scary enough without a stupid movie to rile you up. Language barriers, losing your luggage, and even the occasional unstable government are all possibilities that come to mind when visiting an unfamiliar country. To make a film about such a subject requires a subtle hand, so as to portray these fears in a way that doesn't portray a sense of xenophobia. Unfortunately, No Escape doesn't care about such a balance, as the tourists-in-peril action flick is the most socially irresponsible film since Let's Be Cops.
Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two kids have moved to an unspecified nation in the Fourth World. With employment prospects failing him at home, Jack takes a job as an engineer for a firm that builds water works plants in this region of the world. After only six hours of being in country, the government collapses and a vicious coup erupts, leaving the Dwyers in the crosshairs. Keeping 10 steps ahead of the opposition, Jack and his family are in for the ride of their lives.
No Escape looked like it was going to be a fun thrill ride that harkened back to the action films of the 1980s. Unfortunately for co-writer/director John Erick Dowdle, the film only mimics the ugly politics of those films. The entire film is focused on the Dwyer family and their plight, with Jack being the only one keeping a level head. At times it feels like Jack’s family would rather be shot then do anything to help themselves survive, and you the audience are almost rooting for them to be gunned down just so you don't have to endure the stupidity of their characters.
The racial sensitivity of No Escape is so lacking that I was expecting the scene where one character is forced to aim a gun at another character to devolve into a full on shouting match complete with pre-requisite utterings of, “Di di mao!” When your main character's magic words to get out of trouble are “I'm an American!” you know your movie has a problem that only a Michael Bay movie would understand the solution to. This leaves the normally charming Owen Wilson and the usually wonderful Lake Bell in a film where even when they give it their all, it isn't enough to turn a film that basically warns white families not to travel to Asia into something watchable.
No Escape’s only saving grace is a severely minor role played by Pierce Brosnan, which showcases his action skills as well as his charm and likability. Still, this role is so much of an afterthought that you could have cut his character out of the film and you would only need to make minor alterations to put the film back on track. There is some grim shit in this movie. After the child throwing, attempted rape, and brutality have subsided, you're supposed to accept a story of how one of the children was born as your emotional payoff. It isn’t enough. If we were given a set of characters to give a shit about, I'd say this could have been an emotionally fulfilling ending – but they didn't, so the ending is as rancid as the rest of the film that comes before it.
No Escape employs shoddy storytelling and lame white-guilt politics to tell a story that's better suited for a Lifetime collaboration with Michael Bay, as opposed to any serious thrills and danger. There are better movies for you to spend your time on, especially considering The Man From U.N.C.L.E. continues to languish in box offices. You should spend your time and money on a film like that, which values intelligence, and not knee jerk reactions. Seek them out, instead of this.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.