Hot Take: Care about plot, dialogue and social issues? If so, move along, there’s nothing to see here. Care about stoking your inner xenophobe, being terrified, capitalizing on the most basic stereotypes and satisfying your thirst for blood and violence? Step right up! No Escape is the movie for you!
As harsh as this sounds, John Erick Dowdle and brother Drew would have to borrow a shit to give one about the plot of No Escape. Before the movie dives into the deep end of graphic violence and realistic terroristic mayhem (which it does jarringly fast), No Escape spends roughly two minutes developing the storyline which provides the backdrop for an adrenaline rush of a thriller which borders on realistic horror.
In a nutshell, corporate America is sticking it to some nameless Southeast Asian country and the terrorist cell (which seems to be most of the no name country) isn’t going to take it anymore. Run, Owen, run! That’s it. Well, except for all of the incendiary blatant stereotypes and racism No Escape is drenched in. For very little reason other than it can, I guess?
Ironically, what the film could not do was take aim at Thailand, the country where No Escape was filmed. There was an agreement between the filmmakers and the country of Thailand to in no way, shape or form, identify Thailand as the unnamed southeast Asian country in which Jack Dwyer (played by Owen Wilson) and his American family find themselves in the middle of a violent coup with their lives in peril. Oh, and don’t do anything bad in front of a Buddha.
The film presented their anonymous Southeast Asian country without indicting Thailand and there wasn’t a Buddha to be found so mission accomplished. Due to the total lack of effort to provide any depth to the storyline, No Escape presents Asians as barbarian terrorists who will stop at nothing to get revenge on every white person and most of the non-whites, too. Within the butchery, the film doesn’t forget to make the obligatory reference to Asians singing karaoke, eating dogs and not caring about their children. The one dimensional plot is its only savior since there is absolutely no reason to think this movie is speaking intelligently on anything of substance.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- No Escape Is Tense and Terrifying
On the plus side, No Escape is a tense and terrifying action thriller. The gruesome violence gives it a horrific feel. You might even be able to ask for a discount on your seat after the movie since, most of the time, you only needed the edge.
- Owen Wilson
Wilson delivers as dad Jack Dwyer who will do whatever it takes to save his family within his limitations of being a corporate middle manager outsourced to anonymous Asia.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Xenophobia Runs Wild
Throughout the movie, I kept thinking this film might not be doing much for international tourism. As the movie exited, a man turned to his significant other and said, “See, I told you we should never go overseas.” He didn’t sound like he was trying to be funny.
- Family Matters, Not Much Else
Outside of Dwyer and his family, there is very little care given to anyone or anything in No Escape.
- The Dialogue
There is very little said in the movie that isn’t eye rolling.
- Did the Dwyers Move On a Whim?
The family seems to know absolutely nothing about the country they have uprooted their life to. They didn’t bother learning a few cursory phrases in the country’s native language or even convert some of their cash into the money of their new home.