Due to all the COVID 19 business going on in the world right now, and the government direction to stay at home as much as possible, we have ended up watching a lot more television, Blu-Rays and Streaming services then ever before. For this Friday, we decided on No Escape (2015), while this is an older film then some of the others we have been watching as of late, it had an interesting premise; however, it starred Owen Wilson, and I find many of his movies simplistic and very predictable.
I must say though that when I read the synopsis on the box, I was intrigued. In short, here is a quick rundown of the storyline. Jack Dwyer (Wilson) has failed in his own business in Texas and has searched for a new job. He finds one in an un-named South East Asian country, and must move his whole family to start a new life. Once there, they find out the country is in a middle of a coup, and all foreigners are suspect. The roving mobs search for any foreigners, especially those from the west and once captured, they kill them all in a very brutal fashion. Jack Dwyer (Wilson) must then lead his wife, Annie Dwyer (Bell) and their two daughters to safety while the rest of the world around them crumbles into chaos. Luckily, they come across Hammond (Brosnan) a British businessman who they met on the plane, and he helps them escape to the neighbouring country of Vietnam, and ultimately to safety. While this is the plot in a nutshell, it does not exude the emotions that the film actually produced while watching the film.
What did we think of it? Well, as I previously mentioned, Wilson’s films are normally very predictable. He is usually a fast talking loser who manages to get the girl, win the day, while consistently making abstract observations and quips that are mildly entertaining (i.e. Shanghai Noon, I Spy, Wedding Crashers, You, Me and Dupree to name but a few). The last time he made a film that had a more serious tone was “Midnight in Paris” (which was not bad) and before that “Behind Enemy Lines” (which was quite good). I believe that he actually has great potential in more serious roles and as he is getting older should move to that style of film vice the comedic roles that he tends to take.
Wilson’s portrayal of Jack Dwyer was actually quite good. He still had a bid of the sarcasm that he is known for, but played the dedicated husband and father very well. When his back story is revealed that he had his own company that failed and he had to move to Asia to create a new life him and his family, it made you the audience sympathetic to him and his plight. He was not the comical joker that we were used to seeing but a man who had to put his family first. You could relate to this character, and want him to do well in their new life. Mind you, the chaos of the nation had other plans for him and his family. When he observed the initial murder of the American tourist, his following actions were reasonable and would follow what most husbands/fathers would do. He went to find his family and get them to safety.
Their path to safety was not easy, and some of the actions that he had to take were a little out there, but this is an action/drama movie, so some leeway has to be given to the film. One of my favourite scenes in the film is when they are on the top of the hotel, a machine gun equipped passenger on a helicopter has just finished strafing the hotel survivors, and a bloodthirsty mob has burst through the door. Many of the other hotel guests are already dead, and Dwyer (Wilson) must choose his next action to save his family. He sees the neighbouring high rise, which is a little lower and about a 6-10 foot distance away. He convinces his wife to jump over and he will throw the kids to her thus saving the family. This scene was wrought with tension, the mob is behind him killing everyone, someone is shooting at them, and he is trying to save his family in a fashion that could actually cause their own death. What do they do? His wife (Bell) makes it over, then Dwyer (Wilson) launches his children over to her. To me, this scene was amazing. The fear, the anguish, and the determination were present in all of the characters (Wilson, Bell and the two children Sterling Jerins and Claire Gear). Naturally they all make it, but the tension in this scene was extremely memorable and we were extremely impressed. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that Wilson should look to other films of the genre and re-make his image. He is getting older and the lovable loser shtick will only last so long. There are a few other scenes that were quite memorable, but I will touch on them when discussing the other co-stars of the film.
Lake Bell as Annie Dwyer: Bell was very good in this film, her fear resonated with the audience as she tried to protect her children and family, while totally scared for her life. In the aforementioned scene on the rooftop, you could feel her terror in not only making the jump herself, but also of catching her children when they were thrown to her. Additionally, at this point, I have to give kudo’s to the child actors (Sterling Jenis as Lucy and Claire Geare as Beeze). They were excellent, and I hope to see them in future films. The dynamics between the family were brought to a head in another memorable scene. Dwyer (Wilson) is captured by the mob while trying to obtain a boat and he is about to be executed for his efforts (it must be noted that throughout the film, the mob is led by the same guy that Dwyer (Wilson) keeps on evading). His daughter (Lucy/Sterling Jenis) escapes from her hiding spot to help her father, and the lead rebel grabs her, puts the gun in her hand and points it at her father (Wilson). All the while he has another gun pointed at her head, either she shoots her father, or she gets killed. Dwyer (Wilson) is pleading with his daughter to shoot him so that she can be saved. The tension at this time is palpable as you can see the turmoil in both the father and daughter. Before any of them can get shot, Annie (Bell) comes from behind and lays a smack down on the lead rebel, killing him, thus giving the opportunity for Dwyer (Wilson) to get the gun and shoot the remaining rebels. This scene, like the roof top scene were extremely well done, and I must give all credit for a great performance.
Now let’s talk about Pierce Brosnan as Hammond. Brosnan as Hammond has to be actually the weaker part of the film. He first comes across as a bit of drunk businessman on the aircraft at the outset of the film. I was trying to see what accent he was using, his normal Irish tones, switching it up to a traditional English accent, and then there were even hints of Australian…I was not quite sure as his accent, like his role here, it was a bit of a moving target. He initially helps the family at the airport, then he is seen at the bar a little later, drunk as a skunk with his colleague (an Asian who goes by the handle of Kenny Rogers). He is even doing Karaoke, and singing even worse then when he was in “Mama Mia” (if that is possible). Ok, fine, he is a businessman and loves Asia and all that it entails. Now, lets start the coup, we come across Hammond (Brosnan) again, and he is now a man of action. He is kicking ass and taking names while directing Dwyer (Wilson) to take his family to the roof for safety. Well his fighting skills are admirable here, but, well come on, he is James Bond he should know how to fight!
Afterwards, he appears again at a crucial time to save the family. Not only does he manage to save the family but he demonstrates some pretty remarkable skills with a pistol. I was in the military for 29 years and qualified annually on a pistol. I know it’s capabilities, and this is where Hollywood always makes me laugh. In one scene, Old Hammond is blasting away at a bad guy who is in tower. He is using his AK 47, and always seem to miss him. It is night, it is raining and he only has some side lighting to go by. Then he pulls out his pistol and blows the guy away with chest shots from about 300 yds…c’mon…lets make it a little more believable…I would have accepted the AK shots over the Colt at that distance, but again, he is James Bond! While Hammond’s (Brosnan) role was integral to the plot of the story, and his backstory, when presented to Dwyer (Wilson) did explain some of the reason for the coup, it could have been a bit more realistic. Revealing himself as a government agent for England (Hey, maybe he was Bond in this and we did not know it!), and actually being party to the cause of the coup, it could not explain on how he just happened to be there at every instance to save the family. Oh well it is a film, but this could have been done a little better in my opinion.
What did we think of the film overall? We really enjoyed it and we were definitely entertained. This could have been partly due to the fact that we did not expect anything at the outset, thus were pleasantly surprised, or most likely that this was a really good film for Wilson. He was out of his comfort zone of playing an idiot and doing a real character instead. The scenery was amazing, and the tension kept you going throughout the whole movie. There was just enough humour to lighten it up when required, but then the action and drama would return to keep us riveted to the screen. If you are looking for a little something different to watch while confined to your home, give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed!
Our rating: 6.5/10
If you are interested in other films by the main cast, consider the following recommendations.
Owen Wilson (Drama) Behind Enemy Lines, Midnight in Paris (Comedy) Hall Pass, The Internship, Wedding Crashers.
Lake Bell Surface, Wet Hot American Summer, How to Make it in America
Pierce Brosnan The Foreigner, The November Man, The Tailor of Panama, Thomas Crown Affair, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is not Enough