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Review: No Escape

No Escape
08.24.2015
8 10
 

PLOT: In Southeast Asia for a new job, an American engineer (Owen Wilson) and his family are marked for death when they find themselves in the middle of a deadly coup, where the goal is to murder all foreigners.

REVIEW: It’s always nice when a movie you’re not expecting much from comes along and takes you by surprise – especially in these dog days of summer. NO ESCAPE is a film I’ve had my eye on for a while, mostly due to the unconventional casting of Owen Wilson in a thriller, which is his first non-comedic part since 2001’s BEHIND ENEMY LINES. Since then, the movie’s bounced around the calendar a bit and with The Weinstein Company opening it up right at the end of August, my expectations were low.

To my surprise, NO ESCAPE was actually a rock-solid little thriller that managed to be reasonably gripping from start-to-finish. While the premise certainly plays on certain western ethnocentric fears, the execution of the material by the Dowdle Brothers is top-notch. While known mostly for their found-footage horror movies (QUARANTINE, AS ABOVE, SO BELOW) John Erick (who has the director’s credit) also did the underrated thriller DEVIL. NO ESCAPE is certainly the slickest and most confident piece of mass-entertainment they’ve made so far and in a way it feels like their calling card for bigger action-heavy assignments.

Certainly they’ve made an extremely tense film with NO ESCAPE, which also boasts a number of solid set pieces, including an ultraviolent helicopter attack on a rooftop full of fleeing civilians, and a scene where Wilson, in an effort to save his daughter, throws her from one rooftop-to-another in slo-mo. The pace never lags, with the gritty aesthetic making you feel like you’re plopped right down in the middle of the action, which is quite unsettling considering how brutal the film gets (this one earns its R-rating).

Despite being typecast in comedies, Wilson really is extremely effective as the everyman hero. I’ve always been a big fan of these kinds of “against-type” casting choices, and Wilson makes for a believable family man. There’s no phony action hero posturing and when he and his wife (the excellent Lake Bell) are forced to kill to protect their kids, the violence is brutal.  

Pierce Brosnan also gets a really juicy part as a shady expatriate boasting a few nifty scars who, naturally, proves to be a handy guy to have around when you’re running for your life. It’s Brosnan’s character that allows the Dowdle brothers to sprinkle in some political commentary, with his character having a moment where he admits to being part of a larger problem where western governments economically enslave nations such as the one here, which is interesting as it makes Wilson’s hero as much of an opportunist as everyone else – even if his motivations aren’t inherently sinister. Brosnan is excellent and in a way, NO ESCAPE feels almost like an unofficial sequel to THE MATADOR, with his character here having a lot in common with that movie’s hit-man anti-hero. Also - you get to see Brosnan sing Huey Lewis’ ‘Heart & Soul’ during a karaoke jam. That alone makes it a must-see, right?

The only real problem with NO ESCAPE is that by making the rebels here so uniformly mindless and violent it makes the movie seem quite jingoistic, with only a few moments scattered here and there that suggest not every non-white character in the film is insane. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to call NO ESCAPE racist as it honestly seems like the only goal here was to make a grounded action-thriller and it that regard NO ESCAPE really works. I wound up having an excellent time with it and it’s well-worth checking out as a solidly crafted piece of entertainment.

Source: JoBlo.com

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