Sunday, September 06, 2015

No Escape

Year: 2015
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Sterling Jerins, Claire Geare

Plot: An American expatriate family find themselves trapped and hunted by rebels during a coup after moving into their new home.

Review: No Escape is a story about xenophobia with a dash of cultural shock, something most of us can relate to on some level or another.

After a very interesting opening sequence featuring an assassination, we are introduced to the Dwyer family, made up of Jack, Annie and their two daughters Lucy and Beeze, who have just arrived in an unnamed country in Southeast Asia (it's supposed to be Laos or Cambodia but it sorta looks like Thailand). Despite the major culture shock, they settle in with few problems, until a riot breaks out on the streets, led by rebels who are bent on killing every foreigner they can find. Jack and Annie have to take desperate measures in order to save themselves and their kids, with a bit of help from a fellow expatriate named Hammond, who isn't just a regular traveler.

John Erick Dowdle, who has made slightly flawed but solid films like Devil and As Above, So Below teams up with his brother Drew once again to create a tension filled film which is essentially a long chase sequence. Ironically, Owen Wilson had done something like this before in Behind Enemy Lines, only then he was alone and trained for combat. Here, he plays the everyman who has to protect his family at all costs. The Dowdle brothers, to their credit, do splendidly in raising the tension in the first half of the film as the family attempt to run from their hotel once the rebels bust through the lobby and start the violence. Dowdle does well in putting the audience right in the middle of it as Jack and his family run from their hotel room to the roof, followed by a daring leap to the next building. From there, more danger keeps on coming, though in lesser doses, but more on that later.

The cast all do great work here, with Wilson proving once again that he can play a serious guy. Lake Bell is also solid as Annie, the supportive wife who is naturally terrified but willing to risk her life to save her family. Pierce Brosnan, a long way removed from looking like Bond, plays Hammond as the mysterious guy who is somewhat connected to the reason the riots are happening. He may not be Bond anymore but he can still shoot pretty good. Credit also goes to Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare as Lucy and Beeze. They may be young but they're quite impressive. In fact, the actors playing the Dwyers share great chemistry and thereby making them very believable as a family.

As stated, the first half is solid stuff, and though Dowdle tries his best, the tension starts to wane as the second half progresses. Once Hammond steps in to save the Dwyers at the end of the second act, the film slows down considerably, though it is rather expected. The climax, which features Jack and Lucy in a situation with the rebel's leader, looks poorly constructed despite the two putting in a humongous effort in making it work. 

Overall, despite the flaws, No Escape is a taut little thriller that promises several hair raising moments and solid performances from its cast. (7/10)

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