No Escape review: Edge of your seat stuff from start to finish.
Owen Wilson headlines this high-octane action movie from co-writer and director John Erick Dowdle, the filmmaker responsible for the likes of last year’s As Above, So Below and the Quarantine movies. Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, a corporate employee of an American water manufacturing company who gets the opportunity to relocate to Malaysia along with his wife Annie, played by Lake Bell, and his two children. When they arrive, all is not well and the family find themselves caught up in the middle of a violent rebellion where some of the locals have armed themselves and are seemingly executing all foreigners. With the aid of a handy British tourist named Hammond, played by Pierce Brosnan, the family must brave the hostile climate to reach safety.
Wilson heavily plays against type in this brutal edge-of-you-seat adventure from Dowdle, a filmmaker more known for his horror genre films than action epics. The director wastes no time in setting up the action. Tense from the off, No Escape is a relentless rollercoaster from start to finish and Wilson is really quite good in the lead as the family man who must use instinct to keep him and his family alive. Lake Bell is also impressive in her biggest role to date, following a reasonably successful comedic turn in Man Up from earlier on this year. Brosnan is possibly the only type-cast actor here (though greatly so), but still delights has his hammy-Hammond character with a secret, and sees him back in a genre that he truly belongs following romantic roles in films like Lessons In Love, The Love Punch, which was actually pretty decent, and his dire-2015 action turn in Survivor.
Make no mistake, this is a very violent film, and it won’t be suitable for everyone. Some scenes are truly horrific and harrowing. The action becomes a little laughable in places, notably the roof-top jump a third in, which is a bit ridiculous. The use of slow-motion in that scene and at various other points in the movie seem very out-of-place, and a little over-directed and edited if such a thing is possible. The film doesn’t need it; the intensity and fear of dread is great enough without it.
Those slight negatives aside, No Escape is perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking experiences that we’ve had at the cinema of late. It’s certainly a lot more exciting than most of the summer actioners we’ve witness this year. An unrelenting, vicious ride that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. While it’s all a little bleak and depressing, there’s no denying that it is an unstoppable, exciting feature from Dowdle, Wilson and co. A great surprise.
No Escape review by Paul Heath, September 2015.
No Escape is released in UK cinemas from Thursday 4th September, 2015.