Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan
Running Time: 103 minutes
Release Date: September 4th
Owen Wilson and Lake Bell are heading to “somewhere in Asia” with their two daughters to completely transplant their lives and for Wilson to work for some giant international water company. They meet Pierce Brosnan on their flight, and again in the airport, offering them a lift to their hotel because he’s staying in the same place. They’ve barely had twelve hours to acclimatize when there’s a massive civil uprising in the wake of the assassination of the country’s prime minister, and the family find themselves on the run from a small army of American hating soldiers.
Truth be told, No Escape feels like a zombie movie in more ways than one. Firstly, it’s a product of The Dowdle Brothers, who cut their Hollywood teeth on decent US zombie remake Quarantine. Secondly, the people chasing the nice American family are given little more depth than most walking dead characters; just catch the heroes and do something violent to them. Thirdly, and most importantly, is that zombie movies are often brilliantly reflective metaphors of their time, but No Escape’s message upsettingly appears to be White People = Good, Everyone Else = Bad.
It’s such a shame because the first half of the movie is relentlessly tense, as Wilson gets caught up in the initial coup, then a prolonged escape from their five-star hotel, culminating in a supremely taut rooftop scene. However, once the film drops the charade that the rebels are fighting for a cause, but instead seemingly exist solely to kill this nice American family, all sense of empathy goes out the window, replaced by some tasteless political malarkey about conglomerates ruining third world countries (“They’re actually the fourth world now, honey.” Ugh).
Further missed opportunities abound as Wilson and Bell do pretty well in a genre outside of their normal comfort zone, their kids aren’t completely unlikeable brats (unlike those completely unlikeable brats from, say, World War Z), and the former Bond has a swell time popping up irregularly as a Pierce ex machina to save the day and deliver the only levity to be found throughout the film.
While some directors can handle the strain of making entertainment actually mean something, these writer/directors – who followed up Quarantine with the M Night Shyamalan-scripted Devil and the hilariously bad As Above So Below – clearly aren’t up to the challenge. Thrills and spills? Yes. Subtext? No. Perhaps they’d say it best if they said nothing at all.