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.
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