Movie Review: No Escape (2015) – A Political Thriller That Delivers on Thrills But Can’t Make Sense of The Politics

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No Escape is Owen Wilson’s latest effort to try out his more serious side. While the movie has an intriguing premise, it suffers from an uneven plot, with the first half being excellent, while the second is less so.

Owen Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, an American businessman living abroad with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters. Jack is relocating to an unnamed Southeast Asian country, but he never gets a chance to start his new job. Instead, the day they arrive the country is taken over in a violent coup. Initially, it appears that the revolution is directed against the very company Jack works for, a corporation that’s planning to privatize the country’s water supply. Then, they lose that thread of cause and just decide to go with the revolutionaries being anti-American.

The major problem I saw with this film was failing to continue on with the anti-privatizing natural resources angle. It would have given the movie a bit of conflict that might have allowed people to look at both sides of the issue, and possibly even empathize with the revolutionaries there. After all, the privatization of a necessary natural resource, in a country with an extremely poor population, is something to get upset over.

But then, they dropped that thread and instead just turned the revolutionaries into a bunch of anti-American clichés who just want to murder anything remotely western. The movie turns into extended action scenes of Jack trying to get his family to safety, across the river and to Vietnam.

The street action is gritty, upsetting and very realistic. Owen does a good job of portraying the terror of Jack as he’s being pursued by a mob that’s intent on killing every foreigner they can find. As he survives one hellacious trial after another, you feel for him, and you do get involved in the suspense.

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But the choice to not give the mob a real direction makes it feel one dimensional. Even when you’re watching a movie where you couldn’t possibly agree with the terrorists, you still want to know there’s some driving point behind their actions, some kind of turbulent political atmosphere that makes ordinary people do horrible things.

But by pulling back on the motive, and instead turning it into a ‘look how much these people hate America” outlook, it becomes so one dimensional and nonsensical that it gets a bit ridiculous. This is supposed to be a political thriller. While this movie certainly delivered on thriller, it failed to deliver on political.

It’s still watchable, but maybe instead, watch it as an action flick and don’t expect a certain amount of reason from the subjects. Don’t expect a two sided story. Instead, the movie focuses on Jack’s desperate race to freedom. While good, it’s not as understandable because it’s impossible to get why these people are chasing after a harmless family.

I think it would have been better served to at least give an opposite outlook. To give an idea of why this revolution happened. In that, the filmmakers failed. However, it’s still a watchable effort, as long as you don’t expect a lot of reason with your carnage.

WE GAVE IT : 3 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below


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Movie Review: And So It Goes (2014)

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The second nationwide release this week is a romantic comedy/heartwarming family movie focused on retirees who love Michal Douglass and Diane Keaton.

Realtor Oren Little (Michael Douglas) is an anti-social jerk, and that’s just the way he likes it. His only goal is to sell one last house and retire in peace. Enter conflict in the form of his estranged son, who suddenly drops off his granddaughter (Sterling Jerins). It’s a granddaughter he never new existed. So what does he do? He pawns the 9-year-old off on the neighbor lady Leah (Diane Keaton). Of course, little by little, he decides to get to know the girl and of course, love changes his life forever.

It’s a been there done that script that only rises above mediocrity thanks to the star power of the leads. Despite the premise, it’s a light movie that is designed to be uplifting, without being overtly tear jerking. This is a retirement age romance aimed at a retirement age audience that doesn’t want to think too much.

Douglass shines as the cranky, anti-social Oren. The character is oddly familiar to Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets, only this time I don’t find the love affair creepy because Keaton is actually an age appropriate love match for him.

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I’m sorry, I know that most people love as Good as it Gets, but the whole time I watched the movie, I was like “Ewe, someone make that creepy old man stop touching Helen Hunt.”

Anyway, for Douglas and Keaton, it works and the two have some decent screen chemistry. Keaton is just as cute and quirky as she was when she played Annie Hall.

The characters were written as one dimensional. That’s pretty obvious from the plot and the dialog. But Keaton and Douglass make them work simply based on their own impressive acting chops, managing to give their characters more depth.

The real problem is the writing. You can see every plot development coming from a mile away. There’s is nothing new. Oren is the Grinch whose heart grows three sizes thanks to the love of a child and a good woman. Leah is the open hearted neighbor who’s always getting involved in his business. And So it Goes goes somewhere pretty obvious in the end.

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I would have liked to see an original twist. Maybe a role reversal. Have the woman be the one who’s terrible with children, while the man is the one that’s good with them, maybe? Do something new, for Gods sakes. Make the kid a psychic. Make her a monkey instead. Make the deadbeat parent a woman.

Make the kid really obnoxious and not adorable. Just give me something new. Surprise me, for Gods sake!

If it weren’t for Keaton and Douglass, this movie would have been an utter failure. Even with the two leads, it’s still not doing so great at the box office. This is a movie made for a very particular audience. My guess would be an elderly one where most of the people watching have heart conditions and can’t take too many surprises. Casting Keaton and Douglass was a stroke of genius, but unfortunately, all this movie had was one stroke of genius. Everything else was paint by numbers, how to make a heartwarming movie for skittish retirees.  Watch the trailer below:

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