No Escape (15) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. John Erick Dowdle, US, 2015, 103 minutes

Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan

Not to be confused with the 1994 Ray Liotta flop, No Escape is the new film from Writer/Director John Erick Dowdle whose previous films include modest genre pieces Quarantine and As Above So Below. No Escape follows a similar pattern to Dowdle’s past work in that it follows a group of desperate people trapped in a terrifying and seemingly impossible situation; only this time instead of a building and a deadly virus or the Paris Catacombs we get an unnamed Asian country and a government coup.

Trapped here are Owen Wilson and Lake Bell as Jack and Annie Dwyer, along with their two young little girls Lucy and Beeze. No sooner have Jack and his family arrived than the city is overrun by rebels who have just assassinated the president and are executing any foreigners they come across.

The initial set up is well handled and tense with Jack having to fight his way back to the hotel where his family are under siege and everyone and anyone is being slaughtered. So Jack and his family have to escape the hotel and several other places in order to try and find safe passage out of the country.

There are several tense set pieces that are exciting, realistic and believable, others stretch credibility somewhat. The scene where the Dwyers attempt to escape the hotel from the roof will either have your heart in your mouth or make you laugh uncontrollably and indeed how you feel about this scene will probably shape your feelings about the film as a whole.

Indeed the film is often at odds with itself and can’t quite decide on its tone. At times it film feels very real – a toilet issue, Jack is no Bourne or Bond – and it does feel like we are in a dangerous foreign country. At other times it tests your patience with one too many last second ‘saves’ and Pierce Brosnan’s character Hammond, who seems to have wandered in from a different film altogether to chew scenery and do it seems whatever he wanted. It is quite the performance and really affects the film.

Owen Wilson and Lake Bell however fare much better and it is refreshing to see two people in these roles who are not a glamourous Hollywood couple. They feel more ‘ordinary’ than we are used to seeing on screen and this helps the film, giving them a likeability and believability that increases the danger factor.

John Erick Dowdle on the whole handles the action and set pieces well and creates a suitably tense and hostile environment. This feels like a significant step up from his previous directorial efforts. Though of course Brosnan needed a much tighter leash and as writer Dowdle clearly also had a huge say in the character.

On the whole No Escape is an enjoyable experience thanks to the onscreen family unit and a suitably hostile environment. At times tense and exciting and others stretching credibility and viewers’ patience to the limit.

Review by Antony Palmer

[SRA value=”3″ type=”BIG”]