Quite possibly one of the weirdest reactions that I have ever encountered after watching a film; I was left speechless immediately after the film. Not knowing how to express my feelings was incredibly hard; but that doesn’t mean I exactly liked the film. ‘No Escape’ is the new film by director John Erick Dowdle (Devil & As Above, So Below) that follows an American family that are moving from Texas to an unnamed South East Asia country to start a new life. Owen Wilson’s character Jack Dwyer has a new job at an engineering firm after his business folded back in the states. As they arrive in the unnamed country, they are offered a ride by a British man called Hammond (Pierce Brosnan). Not long after their arrival in the country, a breakout of people immediately start attacking all the foreigners in the country after the American corporation that Owen Wilson’s character works for controls the clean water supply to the country.
Now, when written down like that, the film sounds incredibly intriguing, and not only that, but when I saw the trailer for the first time way back in March, I was intrigued by the movie. Unfortunately, ‘No Escape’ frantically tries to make the film work but eventually ends up hitting all the wrong buttons like Homer Simpson in his power plant. Every now and then, the film is like a pendulum swinging erratically from good to bad, good to bad, vice versa. I truly believe the story is very strong and is absolutely believable when told on screen, but my main problems lay deep in its core of the film, and the first part of my dig to discover why ‘No Escape’ failed is with its lead actor, Owen Wilson. This is his first lead in a dramatic role since 2001’s ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, 14 years since his last dramatic leading role shows massively why Owen Wilson should not have a leading role, in a dramatic film. The Texan actor just cannot help but ooze out his comedic presence in the film and for me, that’s the biggest stumbling block of ‘No Escape’. The lack of a real defining strong leading actor suffocates ‘No Escape’ which ultimately doesn’t allow the film to breathe and grow.
The next part I will discuss is the very brief description of the events that unfold in the film. Around the half way mark, we discover that these tyrants are attacking foreigners in the country is due to an American corporation has a hold of the clean water supply and the locals are not happy. This is explained in roughly less than a minute; now obviously, with the major point of the film brushed over, what do you think next? What I was thinking was, wait, and say that again? Only after reading up on the reasons after the film why the tyrants are attacking the foreigners, I then understood why it was all happening.
‘No Escape’ is a fairly short film at around 100 minutes long and would of definitely benefitted from an additional five to 10 minutes to help develop and explain the reasoning’s of the attacks in the film. Credit is due when it’s due, and it has to be applauded for John Erick Dowdle’s terrific direction in the film. Watching a film that was shot in Asia is a joy to behold, the terrific night light is an incredible mystical sight that projects well on screen. Moments of ‘No Escape’ at night were reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Asian shot film ‘Only God Forgives’. Potential was the only word that was uttered from my mouth after ‘No Escape’, it had the potential to be a gripping drama that ultimately slipped at its first hurdle. Its failure to have a good leading and supporting cast in Lake Bell & Pierce Brosnan; 2.5 out of 5 stars.