By Adrian Lopez
No Escape, The Weinstein Company
Starring Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, and Pierce Brosnan
"What the hell is Owen Wilson doing in here?" was my first thought when I saw the trailer to No Escape. Shouldn't he be walking the runway as that damn Hansel? Isn't he at Pixar Studios, executives begging him to come back for another garbage sequel to Cars? This is not a comedy! This looks like shit has hit the fan. Will there be time for cheese Owen one-liners?
Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, a family man who has pretty much settled in life. He's now working for a big corporation that needs him to fly out of the States to work on a water project. Seeing it as an opportunity to turn it into a fun family trip, Dwyer takes his wife (Lake Bell) and two daughters along for the business trip. Unbeknownst to them, a political coup has taken place. The Dwyer family checks into a hotel that will be in the heart of a raging uprising of the natives of... wherever. Southeast Asia? Maybe?
You sorta have to think of No Escape as a zombie movie. That sounds messed up, considering I'm referring to the rioting natives as zombies, but it's basically the formula to this film. That said, it's one of the most suspenseful movies I've caught this year. Better still, it gets right into the thick of it probably about 15-20 minutes in. I was stressed out most of the movie. There's something to be said about preying on Americans' fear of overseas travel. Lots of critics are gonna be really upset about it and call it xenophobic. But it's scary, man! It's a totally plausible situation, and I think that thought races through your mind often as you watch this movie, especially if you're a frequent traveler. "How would I get out of this?" you'll ask yourself. "Would I even survive until nightfall?"
This cast is great, too. Choosing Wilson to play down-on-his-luck dad with a heart of gold was a smart move. We also got dad jokes, which delivered by Wilson allowed us to breath a little in-between all the nail-biting. Lake Bell had the most character development in the film, showing a trapped housewife who possibly secretly resents her marriage? Both of these characters just show so much pain, which is so outside their typical acting gigs. It's great to see some fresh acting from them.
The conflict in this movie is confusing and shrouded. There are no sub-titles for the foreign language. The coup in the beginning never really makes sense, except to maybe explain why there is an internet and media outage? I think it was all intentional to make the audience really feel as isolated and confused as the Dwyer family. But in many ways, it hurt the film. The trailer makes you think this will have some sort of political or social grounding, but that's far from the truth. This is why I say it runs like a "zombie movie": there is almost no rhyme or reason for slaughter of innocent Americans. Brosnan's Hammond character explains something about the US and it's foreign monopolies, but it just isn't a good enough reason, in my opinion. Especially when it's told in passing and there's no emphasis on it.
Pacing becomes an issue around the second half of the film, as you start to feel the movie is dragging on a little longer than you'd like. There is also this unnecessarily forced family values lesson I could've done without. Let's be honest though: I hate kids.
No Escape will stress you out. That rooftop scene in the trailer is ten times harder to watch it its entirety. It's an edge-of-your-seat film that offers a lot more than last week's movies. The problem lies in its lack of conflict reasoning. Why are people getting killed? Why Americans? We're not a review site that hops up on a soapbox to talk politics and racism, though, so we can enjoy this for what it is: a solid, mindless action-thriller with dad jokes.