Release: 11th January 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
American businessman Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), wife Annie and their two young daughters arrive in Southeast Asia to begin a new life. As his company plans to improve the region’s water quality, the family quickly learns that they’re right in the middle of a political uprising. Armed rebels attack the hotel where they’re staying, ordered to kill any foreigners that they encounter. Amid utter chaos, Jack must find a way to save himself and his loved ones from the violence erupting all around them.
No Escape got a pretty rough deal upon its initial release. Cries of geopolitical racism and monotony tarnished the film’s reputation very early on. Sadly this ‘controversy’ was not strong enough to generate any back-end buzz; because ultimately No Escape tanked. Praise be for the home entertainment market, then. Because the truth is, No Escape is a pretty tense ordeal and at its worst; a half decent watch.
The opening 10 minutes or so are really rather trite, if not a truthful example of just how unwelcoming and, frankly, miserable it is to arrive in a drastically foreign country at silly o’clock in the morning after an exhausting flight. I dare anyone with a family to say that these trips don’t, initially at least, feel a little unpleasant. And this is No Escape’s gambit. Being in a life or death situation is bad enough, but when it is in a country where you don’t speak the language, let alone understand the politics or know where to find safety. It would be utterly terrifying. Call it racist if you like, but the truth is coups happen regularly in developing countries. They might not often end in bloodshed, but if you transport the landscape of No Escape to parts of, say, Africa, it would feel just as honest.
But let’s not forget that this IS a film, and its main priority is thrill over art. This means that No Escape is, at times, borderline redonkulous. How many times can one man come within a hair’s breadth of being killed by the same person!? Character development is at a minimum, and i’m not sure what comic book Peirce Brosnan’s Hammond came from…but i’m certain Austin Powers lives there as well.
That being said, the cast all do a reasonable job of selling the product. And it really is a tough pitch. With the hindsight of the tragic attacks on Paris not two months after the film’s release, it has packaged an all too real threat as Die Hard with a beer belly. Lake Bell does the most work, and does so really rather well. But Owen Wilson comes out the most surprising. Yes we’ve seem him fall flat on his face in the action genre before (Behind Enemy Lines). But there is a tragic vulnerability to his Jack Dwyer, which shows a long forgotten fact: Owen Wilson has range.
Film Grade: C
A fairly harmless set of Cast Interviews spred themselves out to appear as a set of features rather than one slightly longer feature chopped up. But that is what they are. Little is offered in the way of ‘meat’, but a lot of backslapping and gushing occasionally makes room for a few interesting behind-the-scenes snippets.
Special Features Grade: D+
You could do worse that give No Escape half a chance, and as January is more about theatrical rather than home cinema releases; chances are it is a good time to for the film to see the light of day. The special features hardly warrant a physical purchase, so if digital downloads are you thing then happy days!