So, this is probably totally specific to me but it was only 6 months ago that I was travelling through Thailand with my lovely lady. Thailand is totally awesome place to be. Beaches, Wildlife, Weather, Night life, Culture, History, Pi – oh how I miss Pi. In short it has everything with perhaps the exception of road safety, hot water in hostels and smiling waitresses. It also has Bangkok which you either love or hate, it’s a real ‘Marmite’ city. At its worst, Thailand is not even half as scary as this film makes out so I couldn’t help but get a slight xenophobic overtone throughout.
Ignore that bollocks though because the best part of No Escape is how brutally oppressive it is right from the opening scene.
Normally when portraying tension there will be scenes that are either light-hearted or slow paced to give a rolling cycle of build and release but No Escape works differently. The first half of the film just keeps upping the ante to the extent that it borders on being over-powering and draining.
The film starts out with Jake Dwyer (Owen Wilson) re-locating to what I can only assume is Thailand with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and young daughters Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare). Political unrest colours the framework of the story and culminates in a rebel group looking to execute Westerners who are deemed to be ruining their local culture and draining wealth from the community.
Jake is the first one to witness the unrest on a morning paper run and has to battle to return to his family and to somehow get them out of their now besieged hotel. Owen Wilson is surprisingly convincing as a terrified father who is out of his depth and desperate to keep his family safe. It’s not Wilson’s normal typecast role but shows he is capable of being more than a loveable and gentile comedic character.
The hotel siege escalates to a truly terrifying, heart-in-mouth, moment where Wilson has to throw his own children onto a nearby rooftop to escape certain death. Now I have little interest in having my own little sprogs but I have to admit I let out a sly “holy fuhh!!” at this scene. If that’s not bad enough the hotel starts getting shelled by a tank. This is one hell of a bad day so far.
There is no letting up in the tension that coats the film in a genuine feeling of dread. You spend the entire film on the edge of your seat wondering if the family will make it out safely or if there really is no escape. as the title suggests.
For all that goodness though there are a number missteps the first being the rare moments that the family share a moment together. The cast works well together in the midst of danger but the few heart to hearts somehow feel staged or forced, almost cartoony in fact.
Not quite as cartoony as Pierce Brosnan’s character Hammond who is is one step away from having a catchphrase and munching on a carrot. Hammond likes to sip whiskey yet bang broads, is reticent yet exudes an outgoing mid-life crisis persona. This strange blend is held together with a ham fisted back story and an accent that shifts more rapidly than my belly when I step on a wobble plate.
The back stories of most of the characters are pretty limited in fact and none more so than the the group of rebels. I can deal with that because, even though there is one main ringleader, an unknown threat is all the more terrifying. What I couldn’t deal with is how Mr Ringleader was literally everywhere. You would have thought that the family were following the mob and not the other way around because just like McDonald’s; every sodding turn and there they were again, the same bloody mob, the same bloody leader.
I mentioned earlier that they seem to be in Thailand – they never specifically state – but at one point they mention they might be able to escape down the river to Vietnam. Hang on…. there’s at least 300 miles of Cambodia to cross before you get to Vietnam, this has suddenly become a very stupid idea.
Thankfully though, watching this film isn’t such a stupid idea. It does manage to grip you from the start and keeps the tension levels high throughout. It does suffer from a chronic case of Pierce Brosnan but it’s a solid film that you will most likely enjoy – that’s a fact you can’t escape from.
- For the tension
- The roof jump
- Owen Wilson
- The happy moments
- Pierce Brosnan
- Omnipresent enemies