Summer blockbuster season is winding down. There have been some major misses: Fantastic Four, Tomorrowland, Aloha; we’ve seen major hits: Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. For moviegoers, summer premieres offer up a buffet of adrenaline driven plots and extreme visuals. Maybe it’s the hazy heat of August, but this reviewer thinks No Escape could be the cinematic thrill ride needed to cap off your list of hits this season.
No Escape, which stars the sometimes serious — almost always funny — Owen Wilson and Lake Bell, follows the Dwyer family as they attempt at a fresh start. Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) has been offered a job with Cardiff, an engineering company that specializes in water treatment facilities. With one failed business behind him, Jack is desperate for this Cardiff opportunity, even though it means uprooting his family and moving them from Texas to Asia. Unbeknownst to the Dwyers, the never-named Asian country is now under the control of a violent group of rebels after the assassination of its prime minister. Stick with me here!
There are many reasons to go to the movies — a chance to see friends, good-looking celebrity leads, the air-conditioning — but the most satisfying reason to see a film is to escape. There is nothing better than leaving the real world at the theater entrance and surrendering yourself to whatever is flashed up on to the big screen. No Escape is not a perfect film, but it delivers enough heart-stopping moments that for an an hour and forty-one minutes, you are simply engrossed.
Those familiar with the trailer of the film know that as the Dwyer family attempts to escape the bloodthirsty rebels they make the unbelievable decision to hurl themselves off of the roof of their hotel, onto the roof of a nearby building. That’s no spoiler, it’s there, right in the trailer! What the trailer does not detail, what you can only get from the watching the film, is just how gut-wrenching the scene is to watch. With their lives at stake, and two young children in tow, this mother and father have to make the decision of a lifetime and as a viewer you cannot help but hold your breath and wait to see where it lands (pun, fully intended). As a viewer, the film continuously forces you to decide what you would do in these adrenaline-pumping moments, bringing you right into the mental space of the Dwyers’ as they run for their lives.
Story-wise, No Escape has some gaping holes. One, the Asian country, where all of this is taking place, is never identified accept to say they’re close to the Vietnam border — a plot detail that would’ve given some more weight to the military coup and made the film less generic. Next, there is Pierce Brosnan, whose character functions as more of a narrative device than an actual person. And finally, there is the film’s final standoff between the Dwyers and the rebels, which is suspiciously calm as compared to the duck-and-cover speed of the rest of the film. These are major mistakes, but this reviewer is willing to forgive them for the breathtaking moments when the film does deliver.
No Escape is a visceral getaway. For those looking for a comparison, the Dwyers’ fight to survive recalled many of the gripping emotions found in The Impossible, from 2012. If you’re willing to forgive some of the film’s letdowns, you’re in for a good time.