Thanks to a fast pace and a gritty film style, No Escape manages to hook the audience in the opening moments and keep them on the edge of their seats. Owen Wilson and Lake Bell deliver intense performances as parents pushed to the edge to keep their children alive in a world gone insane.
Directed by John Erick Dowdle (who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Drew Dowdle), the film sees Wilson and Bell joined by Pierce Brosnan, Sterling Jerins, Sahajak Boonthanakit and Claire Geare. The film benefits greatly from the cinematography of Léo Hinstin (As Above, So Below) and the editing work of Elliot Greenberg (Chronicle). The two give the film a gritty quasi-documentary feel – which adds to the audience’s tension.
While trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, the film’s plot follows American civil engineer Jack Dwyer (Wilson) as he relocates his family to a small country in Southeast Asia after losing everything at his own company. His wife, Annie (Bell), is supportive of her husband, but it is clear the move has put extreme stress on their marriage and was their last chance.
After an extremely long flight, they arrive at their hotel and start to settle into their new life. The next morning Dwyer heads out into the city to look for an American paper, and discovers rebels have staged a coup in the night and assassinated the prime minister. Now large groups are storming the city and killing any American they can find and anyone loyal to the old regime.
The rest of the film breaks down to an extended chase sequence as Dwyer races to save his family; escape the hotel as it is filled with rebels; find a way out of the city; and eventually out of the country. Along the way, Dwyer is aided by Hammond (Brosnan), a British man with a questionable background, and his friend Kenny (Sahajak Boonthanakit), who has a great love for country music icon Kenny Rogers.
No Escape does an excellent job of capturing the audience in the opening moments of the story and keeping them guessing just how far the film will go. Dowdle keeps the film’s pace fast so the audience never gets a chance to get relief from one suspenseful moment to the next. The talented filmmaker also keeps increasing the danger so to add to the pressure the on Wilson and Bell. As parents, the two actors are forced to do anything needed to keep their children alive – even when it comes to murder or throwing their own children off a roof to avoid rebels. Both handle the roles and make the audience truly care about whether the family will get out of the city alive.
No Escape’s bonus material includes commentary from with John Erick and Drew Dowdle, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes gallery.
Thanks to its intense performances from Wilson and Bell and the tension Dowdle captures on screen, No Escape manages to rise above the familiarity of its plot to deliver a film that will keep you talking about it long after the end credits finish.