“No Escape” will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to end.
The story follows Jack Dwyer, played by Owen Wilson, and his family as they move to an unnamed country in Asia that seems to be Thailand. Jack has taken a job working at a water purification plant after his company fails. His wife, played by Lake Bell, is struggling with the changes they’ve been forced to make and of their two girls, one entering a rebellious stage, and one who’s just still a small child. Chaos quickly ensues after the assassination of the prime minister, and Jack must do everything in his power to ensure the safety of his family.
The director, John Erick Dowdle, did a great job building up tension and creating suspense. The film is an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end and Dowdle makes sure to keep you at the edge of your seat. Such is to be expected from him coming from a horror film background. Horror films live and breathe through its suspense. He also does a great job slowing down time to emphasis turning points. However, repeated directing techniques and at times predictable writing manages to water down suspense scenes into something you inevitably see coming.
The problems start with the story itself, which Dowdle also wrote. Such is to be expected from him coming from a horror film background. He does a poor job of fleshing these characters out. The suspense of the scenes is excruciatingly tense because of the extreme violence and dark scenarios. In a properly developed thriller, this should come from the connection you make with the character. Some mentions of Wilson’s character is made every now and again, but Bell’s character has no background. The kids’ characters also play out just as flat and at times unreasonable. While it’s understandable that the kids wouldn’t understand the situation at first, it’s really starting to drag on that after several harrowing scenes they still don’t get the vibe that they need to listen to their parents and escape. If he had spent more time developing these characters and giving the audience a reason to feel for these characters, it would have been a more gripping and overall better film.
The performances throughout the film were good. Owen Wilson hasn’t had a non-comedic role in about fourteen years, but he really proved his acting chops with this film. He is convincingly scared, brave, confused, caring, and more. He was good in solo scenes as well as in scenes with his family and strangers. Lake Bell also delivered a great performance. She covered a wide range of emotions as well and played great. While these two may not seem like dramatic actors given their background, they more than managed to succeed. Pierce Brosnan was wonderful in this role that seemed to be tailor made for him.
Watch this movie to see Wilson and Bell show a different side to their acting talents and for the suspenseful scenes. While the story could’ve been better and deeper, it is at least logical and cohesive, while a bit lacking and empty. It does manage to keep you in suspense guessing what’s next, so that’s something.