“No Escape” places its audience into the center of the storm and does not let up. Danger is packed throughout each frame of this film and surrounds the theater in an atmosphere of fear.
The film centers on the story of Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) who is relocating his family to Asia for a new job as an engineer in a water treatment plant. Only after spending less than a day in his new home, Dwyer and his family are caught in the middle of a coup.
Battles are breaking out on the streets between rebels, the police and the military. The rebels slowly gain ground and as they are take over the streets, they are executing foreigners on the spot without hesitation. After witnessing an execution first-hand, Dwyer searches for a way to get his family to safety.
Watching this film, I could feel my heart beating in my chest and see the hairs standing up on my forearms. The scenes in the film take the audience on a roller coaster with high and low points with a few loop-de-loops mixed in for good measure.
One scene that demonstrates this feeling is when Dwyer and his family are escaping from the hotel. The only safe place is up on the roof with other hotel guests who are hiding from the danger below on the streets. A helicopter approaches the roof and a gunman starts firing out the open door. The chopper then crashes onto the roof after striking power lines.
Dwyer finds the only way to safety is to jump across to the next building. He tells his wife and two daughters jumping over to the neighboring roof is the only way they will have a chance to live.
“All I know is that we got to keep putting 10 steps between us and them. Your going to jump first and I am going to throw the kids over one at a time,” Dwyer says to his wife. “Then I am going to follow.”
Another scene that shows this high level of fear is when Dwyer and his family make their way to the American embassy on a motorbike. They ride under the cover of darkness and in disguise. With only a block to go, they encounter two large groups of rebels on the street. With no other option, they are force to drive through the group at a snails pace in order to reach the embassy. Dwyer’s face is covered up with a rag but you see the fearfulness in his eyes, hoping they won’t be discovered.
While filmmakers don’t tell the audience a lot of background about the characters, they give them enough to form a strong connection and bond, which makes the film work.
Wilson breaks from the traditional comedic roles he has taken on in the past. Audiences have come to know him for his zany style of humor in films like “Zoolander” and “Wedding Crashers.” This dramatic role fits him well and shows a new level of depth Wilson can bring to the screen.
One scene that shows this depth is when Dwyer goes to save his daughter, who is at the hotel pool. As he makes his way through the hotel, rebels are storming the building and killing people in their path. He blocks their path, leading his daughter to safety.
Complementing Wilson’s performance is Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan takes on the role of Hammond. On the surface, Hammond appears to be another businessman living abroad, but he works for the British government. Hammond’s set of values is tested throughout the story when he works later to save Dwyer and his family.
The film also has some subtle undertones the audience might not catch. The films shares the opinion that western governments and companies use their economic might to gain control of smaller countries.
This theme is conveyed when Dwyer, his family and Hammond hide on top of a roof for the night. Hammond remarks to Dwyer that “the rebel leaders said that we (the west) were trying to enslave their people by controlling the water works and they were right.”
“No Escape” takes the audience on a tough journey, but it is a film that does not need to be missed. With that tough journey in mind, it's strongly advised to leave younger family members at home. It has a lot of dark themes and imagery, with many depictions of graphic violence. “No Escape” is rated R.