When starting a job with a new company requires him to move, engineer Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) moves his family to an unnamed South-East Asian country, bordering Vietnam. His wife Annie (Lake Bell) puts on a brave face for their daughters Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare), though she is clearly becoming increasingly agitated about their new home. The family meets Hammond (Pierce Brosnan), an enigmatic but charming British expat shortly after arriving, and he helps them get to their hotel. The following morning, having received no word from the employers at his new firm, Jack goes out to get a newspaper and to explore their surroundings. It isn’t long before he finds himself in the middle of a vicious riot in which armed demonstrators brutally attack and overcome the police. The rioters soon begin to attack other civilians, targeting white tourists in particular. Jack runs back to the hotel to protect his family as they quickly become surrounded by the rebellion. They will have to face overwhelming obstacles to get out of the city in one piece.”
No Escape opens with a brutal political assassination that foretells the violence that is to follow. Perhaps a little slow starting off, once the initial riot scene commences, the film is all-go, non-stop action. The set pieces are intense and breath-taking, while the booming soundtrack, dizzying camerawork, use of slow motion ( perhaps a little overused), and vivid yet disorientating ‘fourth world’ iconography all contribute to the creation of an immersive and entertaining action thriller.
Wilson and Bell’s performances have to be commended here. We are not used to seeing either do drama but both prove highly capable in evoking sympathy in their roles as parents who are loving and protective over one another and over their children. Their characters feel completely credible and authentic, and the audience cannot help but also feel their distress at the prospect of their family being in such great peril. Desperation, determination and instinct serve as their only weapons against the mass of enemies. The young actresses of Jerins and Geare are also sweet as sugar as the endangered daughters – the protection of their innocence becomes another concern of their parents and of us, the audience. Though some will find the characterisation abominable, others will find Brosnan charismatic as the drunken Hammond, who plays a greater role (rather predictably – he does have a gun in all the promos) later on in the film. Brosnan plays what you would imagine a retired James Bond to act like – drinking and messing around with women, but still kicking ass when the times call for it. His presence brings much-needed comic relief to the often claustrophobic atmosphere.
No Escape is a roller coaster ride from start to finish and a much more emotive film than promised by its comic star billing. Its production qualities are top-notch, its ambience immersive and its raw emotions stay with you after the final credits. It is a tense, emotional, thrilling experience.