We attended an advanced screening of No Escape. This is No Escape movie review (although it was not required of us and our attending had nothing to do with this blog).
We were barely settled into our seats before there were a trio of dead characters in No Escape. I mean, geez, the movie’s title hadn’t even come across the screen and there were three dead bodies, including an Asian Prime Minister.
If that doesn’t exactly explain Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan’s new movie, reread those sentences. The political thriller, which also features Lake Bell, is about an American family that relocates to Southeast Asia for work. As the family is flying, though, that’s when the opening sequence — punctuated by the Prime Minister’s assassination — occurs.
Wilson and Bell, along with their really cute duo of daughters, arrive in a country of unrest, one that has just undergone a coup d’ete. Except they don’t know it. They just know they’re in a “fourth world” country. Small aside: At no point in the movie do they actually identify the country they’re in. And that’s intentional. It was filmed in Thailand with permission only granted if Thailand wasn’t identified in any scenes. So no mention of Thailand. Plus, it’s not really meant to be Thailand anyway.
A quick Google search says Cambodia is a fourth world country — a term that Bell’s character utters early on — and the use of Khmer script (even though it is shown upside down), which is used for Cambodia’s Khmer alphabet, plus a geographical reference in the movie pretty much pinpoint it there. The movie has actually been banned in Cambodia for those reasons, despite the fact that the fictional movie is set in a fictional country with a fictional language.
But let’s back up for a minute. Owen Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, who I assume is a fictional person. He moves his family because he took a fictional(-ish) job at a fictitious water treatment facility. The rebels don’t like him or his white face. Racist? Not exactly. There’s a global problem (one that Pete and I just watched a documentary on last week, actually) where first world countries will go to third and fourth world countries and give them “necessities” (in this case, clean water). But these countries can’t afford to pay for these services, which are given on loan not on generosity. When the first world countries come to collect the bill, it can’t be paid. So instead they claim their natural resources — rain forests, oil, ports, whatever. Natives in this fictional country hate this problem as much as (I can only assume) real natives in real countries do.
Jack Dwyer, he doesn’t mean to bring his family into this. It’s just that this is the only prospect in his future. Dwyer’s just a man from Texas with a failed business in his past. He must have been spending all his time on that business that he didn’t have time to watch the documentary Pete and I saw. If he did, he might rethink his relocation. Instead, though, they arrive to a hotel with no phones, no working TV, and spotty power. He goes out the next morning to get a newspaper (USA Today, please, because he only speaks English) and he’s sandwiched between a wall of rebels and one of police. The tension (and a fire bomb) explode and Dwyer rushes to the hotel to find his family to try and escape.
I held my breath the entire movie, the majority of it spent with my hands over my mouth. Truth be told, writing this review is making me clench up again. Occasionally I would hear Pete or the woman next to me curse. And they heard me jump and let out a squeal a few times. I kept telling myself that Owen Wilson is the star of the movie so he has to make it out alive, but I was less sure about his wife and kids. And, as the movie went on, I wasn’t even very sure about him.
There are two scenes that break the tension, but other than that, you are just in for a long ride. Don’t buy popcorn. You’ll be absolutely glued to the screen and you won’t even look down to eat it. Plus, there’s quite a bit of blood and violence so you probably won’t want to snack anyway. Overall, we loved it. And as I was waiting for Pete to come out of the bathroom afterwords, I heard a ton of people talking about it as they left. Everyone seemed to really enjoy this one.
No Escape is on DVD now. You can purchase it here.