No Escape

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Release Date: August 26, 2015
Runtime: 103 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Owen Wilson; Lake Bell; Pierce Brosnan; Claire Geare; Sterling Jerins; Sahajak Boonthanakit

This is the kind of movie I feel like they don’t quite make anymore. “No Escape” is something that Charles Bronson or even Sylvester Stallone might have starred in back in their 70s/80s glory days. Basically, it’s a standard “family in peril” movie, albeit a lot (and I do mean a LOT) more violent than others of similar ilk.

The plot is threadbare: Owen Wilson moves his family from Austin, TX, to “X Asian Country” (pic was lensed in Thailand) in order to take an engineering job with an American company doing work there. About ten minutes after they arrive at their hotel, Wilson goes out to try and find an American newspaper and, literally, stumbles into the thick of a rebel uprising! Cue gunfire and chase sequences. After a failed attempt at getting to the American embassy, the remainder of the movie follows the family as they desperately try to get to the Vietnamese border and to safety.

Owen Wilson does a good job in the “Anguished Father Protecting His Family At All Costs” vein. This might be the springboard of a new type of character for him; finally giving him a chance to break free of the doofus-types he’s normally so fond of playing. He has real chemistry with the girls who play his kids and has a crucial warmth about him that all dads must possess.

Speaking of the girls who play his kids (Claire Geare and Sterling Jerins), if I were their mother(s), I would say “Hell to the No!” if they were offered a part in this movie. What these kids go through!! I don’t care if it is a big, fictional, Hollywood movie. The studio should really pay for the therapy these kids are gonna need for years to come after what they are put through in this film. Sheesh!!

Lake Bell matches Wilson in the “Nurturing But Fiercely Protective Mother” role. She complements Wilson’s warmth with those kids and has a nice rapport with Wilson, even if her role is somewhat stock woman-in-distress.

But what is Pierce Brosnan doing here? His role is, once again, a standard role of “Good Guy Helping Imperiled Family Get To Safety With Insider Knowledge Of (Insert Foreign Territory).” I mean, I guess he showed some interest in the script and the producers thought, “Well, we weren’t looking for a name actor for this role, but since he’s interested, sure! It can only help the box office!” He’s fine, but not stretching any acting muscles. Although he does have an unfortunate karaoke sequence which stirs horrifying memories (as if we needed any) of his singing in “Mamma Mia!”

To his credit, director John Erick Dowdle (sharing screenplay credit with his brother, Drew) keeps the film moving at a quick clip with invaluable help from editor Elliot Greenberg. There are a few requisite expository passages, but they are kept to a minimum and do what they need to do before giving way to more chases.

“No Escape” will probably appeal to the same demographic that made the “Taken” movies so popular. It’s polished and violent and should keep the bros happy. The film, however, is a little too recklessly violent for my taste and contains some truly disturbing scenes that make this unadvisable watching for dads (and moms) with small daughters. I just feel as though it would be a trifle too uncomfortable for that piece of the population and would detract from the film’s entertainment value, if constant gunfire and death can be considered entertaining. In any event, keep a lookout for Owen Wilson to potentially become the next Liam Neeson, middle-aged action star.

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