There’s a sequence ten minutes into No Escape, where Owen Wilson’s character, Jack, is caught in a battle between armed rebels and government forces in Southeast Asia – where Jack has recently moved his reluctant family, due to his work.
As violence breaks out and Jack travels back across town to rescue his family, who are unaware that hell is breaking loose outside their hotel, it’s impossible not to be invested and on the edge of your seat.
It’s a visceral, tense and terrifying moment, that draws up the image of recent, real life attacks on foreigners abroad. As Jack and his family try frantically to escape to safety, with the only apparent option being to jump from one rooftop to the next, No Escape is truly thrilling. However, everything else that follows fails to top it.
It doesn’t take long at all for No Escape to run out of steam. As soon as it settles down and the focus becomes strictly on the family, the overwhelming, chaotic nature of a country going through a coup is lost, and the film sacrifices a lot of its suspense for something more conventional.
It doesn’t take a filmic genius to guess what is going to happen, who will live and who will die – note any Asian person in a bit role who tries to help the family. The final hour plays out as a by the numbers thriller, with little surprise and a lot of boredom.
One brief, unexpected glimmer of light is Pierce Brosnan, who shows up as Hammond; a bad ass with a dodgy ‘Landon’ accent, whose opening line of “I got into a fight with a tiger” is unintentionally laughable.
Whilst his performance is hammy to say the least, he at least injects a bit of fun into proceedings, although it’s as if he is acting in a different film altogether – an 80’s style B-movie which the film’s opening hints toward, but fails to deliver.
The only thing that’s more dodgy than Brosnan’s accent, is the scaremongering and xenophobic representations that live within the film, and, ultimately, prove to be No Escape’s biggest problems.
Asian rebels are portrayed as barbaric beyond belief as they shoot and slice through people with great ease. Asian women are described as “eager to please”, the majority of which show up in the film as prostitutes. There’s even a joke about eating dog shoehorned in which, as you can imagine, leaves a bad taste in your mouth for many reasons.
Boring, predictable and offensive, No Escape is another great idea executed in a straight to video way. It’s a shame because that hotel sequence is really, really good.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com