No Escape


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

No Escape
"The feeling of making it up as they go along is well done"

There are always choices. There are side roads and flood drains and broken padlocks. You can make it out. You can find a way.

Not for Jack and Annie Dwyer (Owen Wilson and Lake Bell), with daughters Lucy and Beeze, who have just arrived in an unnamed Asian country at the moment when a violent coup erupts and foreigners, especially those working for government friendly industries, are targeted.

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Their posh hotel becomes a scene of carnage. Marauding gangs stalk the corridors. There is, as the title suggests, no escape.

Essentially a chase thriller, the film suffers from having no sub-plot, no plan B. Where to hide, how to survive, creates the energy that fires the fear factory.

The Dwyers are innocents who have no experience of being potential victims in a manhunt. Their naivety is understandable, if annoying. Jack makes a snap decision; Annie queries it; that's called marital disharmony - perfectly normal. The girls are protected with baby stories until forced to do dangerous stuff, like leap from a tall building.

The feeling of making it up as they go along is well done. They find a map of the city. They can't read it. They look for the American embassy. The place is under siege. In the middle of a street battle Lucy asks, "Tell us the story of when I was born." Jack says, "Not now, honey. Tell you later." This exchange demonstrates the gulf between the reality of their situation and the family's love-you-miss-you corn fed traditions.

Writer/directors The Dowdle Brothers have achieved something surprisingly difficult - how to make an action picture that isn't crammed to the lid with superfit superfast fight choreography in the style of Jason Bourne.

Pierce Brosnan puts in an appearance that may shake, even stir you. It would be wrong to dismiss him as comic relief, or the rough-edged leader of a charm offensive. In this role of an international barroom vigilante, more interested in girls than guns, with, it has to be said, a dark side, he reminds us, as if anyone needs reminding, what a delight it is to have him around.

The pre-credits sequence, followed by "17 hours earlier", something they like to do in TV series, is a teaser that warns you it's heavy, it's going to get heavier, be prepared. Do we need this? Also, the ending is weak, but then most endings are weak, so no tears on the pillow.

Finally, it's the performances that draw you in. Wilson and Bell are believable, discarding any trace of their star rating and independent reputations. They are who they play and it feels right.

Empathy has been earned. It is the sugar that sweetens the pill and takes the "im" out of "possible."

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2015
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An American family get caught up in an overseas coup.
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Director: John Erick Dowdle

Writer: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle

Starring: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Sterling Jerins, Claire Geare, Sahajak Boonthanakit

Year: 2015

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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