In ‘No Escape,’ Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and their kids move overseas to a new home but soon realize their safe haven isn’t so safe after all and foreigners are being killed. But does the action-packed movie fall flat?
Let’s be honest, it’s a tough concept to buy. Owen Wilson and Lake Bell take on the roles of Jack and Annie Dwyer in the new thriller that has oddly ben compared to a mix of Taken and San Andreas. So does that make Pierce Brosnan‘s Hammond the hero? Well it seems many are just as confused. Here’s what the critics are saying — will you go see it?
Part disaster-chase flick, part scare film meant to warn would-be parents that their kids will want to go to the bathroom or be told a story even when roving bands of killers are present, the movie stumbles from one set-piece into another, each an insight into how a seemingly foolproof set-up can be bungled by sloppiness.
In terms of craftsmanship, No Escape boasts a handful of terse sequences (like the aforementioned opening scene) that are well-executed by John Erick Dowdle and his collaborators. However, some of the visual techniques used by Dowdle and his As Above, So Below cinematographer Léo Hinstin (slow-motion, extreme closeups) result in certain scenarios becoming outright laughable and campy, when they’re intended to be dead serious and/or terrifying. The film also relies heavily on unsteady handheld camerawork and fast editing throughout most of its action scenes; however, because No Escape lacks the visual clarity of a similar approach by someone like Paul Greengrass, the final result just leaves you feeling seasick rather than engaged. Likewise, the film’s violence is portrayed in an exploitative fashion, aiming for brutal realism with its depiction of the bloodshed, but rarely with any sort of emotional connection for the audience.
Weirdly, the marketing for No Escape makes it look like an action-thriller, something along the lines of a Taken or even this summer’s San Andreas. In actuality, there are probably more scenes of the family hunkering down in hideouts than running from enemy fire. As a result, most of the “action hero” moments go to co-star Pierce Brosnan, who shows up as a brash and bearded Good Samaritan — like James Bond, but with an Aloha shirt instead of a tux. Not surprisingly, the former 007 steals every scene he’s in, though his screen time is ultimately short.
This latest thriller from director/co-writer John Erick Dowdle (“Devil,” “As Above, So Below”) is a technically accomplished, morally rank slab of cultural exploitation about an American family caught up in a violent uprising in an anonymous Southeast Asian country — one whose dark-skinned natives are on hand to kill and be killed, but who could otherwise scarcely be of less dramatic concern or interest to those behind the camera.
Will you see No Escape, HollywoodLifers?
— Emily Longeretta