No Escape is a clichéd, slightly clueless thriller, but it pushes all the right buttons, and gets the pulse pounding.
As a family arrives in Southeast Asia for a business/holiday trip, a coup erupts and as gun toting shouty men lay siege to their hotel, killing anybody ‘foreign’, they must escape the carnage and head to safety. Owen Wilson and Lake Bell play against type in roles that require running, shouting, crying, jumping and being quiet, whilst Pierce Brosnan puts in an unnecessary, but kinda fun, performance as a gun toting ex pat.
What it lacks in story, subtlety and script, it makes up for intense, taught thrills that just take you along for the ride and do little beyond that. It’s a series of set pieces tied together by a game cast, and energetic style, it doesn’t let up, even if it holds little substance.
The ‘bad guys’ are faceless Asian men who you can’t understand, which is a problem, and the film tries to make a point early on, with a large political figure being shot dead and a political satire that is dropped by the wayside. Later on there’s more posturing as it is revealed that it may be down Owen Wilsons work with a company that tend to make a mess of the lives of the people there, that has A. caused the coup and B. made him a target.
This is barely a plot point, its relevance diminishes as the film reaches its climax, a point that never holds together long enough to be considered important. Once these are rendered useless the film can get back to basics and be an action packed thriller. This, it does well. The early scene in which gunmen hunt the family through their hotel is scary and horribly reminiscent of recent news coverage, Lake Bell nails scared and human in a role that is made more engaging by her performance.
Owen Wilson doesn’t have any of the ticks and quirks of his comedic or indie roles, its all panic and fear here, and it’s quite effective. The two lead actors play really well against their two young daughters, the true terror is potent and every so often the animalistic nature of the situation comes through. It will make you think not about what you would do, but what you would be capable of.
There are times when the paternal instincts of the parents kick in and you get a little shiver or a stomach flutter, they are desperately trying to protect their children and themselves, and it shows when Wilson bluntly yells “We are going to DIE”. It’s these moments that make the film engaging, when you believe the humanity and fear evident in this survival situation.
No Escape does, however, have a few unbelievable moments action wise, children are flung from buildings and gunmen take far too long to reach them, but its done with flair.
Elsewhere Pierce Brosnan has a dodgy accent and a cackly performance that doesn’t really need to be in the film. A survival story would be alright on its own, but we have Brosnan, who comes in and out of the story, helping them escape and such, whilst he’s fairly fun to see, you don’t miss him when he’s not there.
The score is nice and exciting from Marco Beltrami, the cinematography is surprisingly nice considering it has to keep up with the action and the direction gives the film a grungy brash 70’s bombast. All in all, I liked it, it’s no classic, it’s not as brilliant as it could have been, but I like Lake Bell, and it’s just a tense action thrill ride that succeeds in getting the blood pumping.
Rating: B- 6/10