(MA15+) Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan
If you didn’t have anxiety when you started watching this film, you certainly will as it goes along, thanks to director John Eric Dowdle. No Escape is a high-intensity thriller that is bound to get your palms seriously sweaty with fear, whilst also giving new meaning to the saying ‘first world problems’. But with all of that being said … it’s not a memorable, moving or meaty movie, though.
Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) is an engineer from Texas. When his company opens a new water treatment plant in Thailand, he moves with his reluctant wife Annie (Lake Bell) and two daughters. When the Dwyer family arrive at the airport, the family face a not-so-uncommon problem for travellers in foreign countries – no internet, no phones and no explanations. Little do they know that during their 14-hour flight, the Prime Minister of Thailand has been assassinated and rebels are starting to take over the capital. In order to survive, Jack and his family, with the help of their new friend Hammond (Pierce Brosnan), must navigate their way through the murderous crowds to somehow find safety.
The chair-gripping panic in No Escape is reminiscent of the film Argo. Both are similar in their content – intense terror as Westerners fight to escape an unpredictable foreign city. Every move, every look, every breath is life or death. Both films leave you with an uneasy taste of human nature, with graphic depictions of mobs in all their madness. Unlike Argo, though, there is no clear triumph of human ingenuity, and the intense fear throughout the film is monotonous. Where Argo had moments of quirky humour, romance and clever plot-twists, No Escape has scene-after-scene of hiding, running, dodging bullets – as well as much darker content on public executions, attempted rape and war crimes.
Even when you look past the constant terror and mad dashes to escape hordes of machete-wielding Thai rebels, there unfortunately is nothing else that runs beneath. Brosnan explains the political coup as the fault of ‘corporations looking out for their own interests’, which not only is shallow and clichéd, but doesn’t explain why thousands of Thai people are now killing every Westerner they can see.
In terms of characters, both heroes and villains are as one-dimensional as the plot.
When all is said and done, the audience is left with a sense of deep vulnerability which detracts from how much you can enjoy the film. It is quite possibly the worst film to promote tourism to Thailand in the history of motion pictures. (Even worse than The Impossible, which portrayed a family separated in the Boxing Day Tsunami).
In short, there are two main things to take away from this film: Owen Wilson should stick to comedy; and always check www.smarttraveller.gov.au before going on your next overseas adventure.
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