Once again tonight, the good folks at the Weinstein Company invited me to a pre-screening of their latest release “No Escape”. The story centers around Owen Wilson, simply trying to get his family out of what he believes is a random bout of civil unrest in South East Asia. I’ll let you take a look at the trailer (if you haven’t seen it yet) before I delve into the spoiler free review.
So presuming you just took the two minutes to watch the trailer, you would assume you get the idea of the film. However, the first point I have to make is that the movie is a bit deeper than what the trailer would have you believe, which is refreshing. Long gone are the days where trailers would get you interested in a film, and instead you can see an entire movie in two minutes. ‘No Escape’ manages to entice audiences with the story without giving away all of the surprises it has in store. (If you think throwing a little girl off a building is the best the film has to offer, you’re quite wrong.) The movie is uncommonly tense, with an unrelenting pace that drives home the stakes and the stresses of this very real feeling, very terrifying situation. From the opening scene of the film, the severity of events to come is boldly apparent, and the depiction of characters is quite true to life. There is also a welcomed lack of typical film clichés, (If people are hiding, no one sneezes and accidentally alerts their pursuers) and there are a handful of moments that seem to go in a typical direction, and take a drastic turn.
All the characters in the movie behave as one might expect them to in the real world, especially Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare, (the two daughters), and their mother played by Lake Bell is a perfect balance of what someone would do, and what someone should do in the film’s context. Some may wonder if funny-man Owen Wilson would be properly suited for a movie like this, but rest assured his acting chops shine with a perfect balance of intensity, intelligence, and a bit of humor in the right spots (primarily the film’s first act). Owen Wilson isn’t some type of John McClane style, American action hero, he’s simply a man who has to do what is necessary to keep his family safe, and escape the situation they’ve been placed in. One of the best parts of the film however, is Pierce Brosnan. His brash, rude, wise cracking character Hammond seems to be an oddity at first, but later on in the film makes his importance known, and he delivers my favorite line of the film… “I’m going to head to a strip joint. I should put on my sweat pants…. so they know I mean business.”
The events portrayed in “No Escape” never jump the bounds of reality, yet can be horrifying in spots (after you watch the film look at the photo below again, when you know who’s holding that gun.) Everything seems to be extremely well thought out. Even at the level of sound design, when a bullet whizzes past, and strikes a wall, it SOUNDS terrifying. The CGI in the film is minimal, and even when it is used, is barely noticeable. There are some ultra violent scenes, with people getting hacked to death with machetes, or run over by cars, or shot in the face, however, the point of those scenes isn’t for the gore, it’s to show the shockingly low level some humans can get to when they are forced to. The film does slip in a few places however, starting with the over use of “shaky cam”. Spots in the first act seemed to try a bit too hard to establish danger with shaking the camera to the point where I thought I was going to get a headache. There were also certain slow motion shots that seemed a little too long lasting, or just pointless all together. Also we see some type of an odd divorce sub-plot that doesn’t really go anywhere for some reason, and a few scenes ended with a quite predictable rescue of a character, while others were the total opposite, by seeing the family saved by things that seemed to come out of nowhere for no reason.
All in all thought, this is an amazing, real world, tension filled film that, despite a few leaps on geopolitical logic, is one you should see when it comes out on August 26th, (Sorry Vick, I got the release date mixed up). It’s nice to an exilerating story that isn’t a remake, or a reboot, or a sequel come to the big screen, and although the film is extremely graphic, it’s base in realism stands firm. The cast shines, and the balances of challenges, issues, themes, characters, and motivations all make perfect sense (which is hard to find in many modern films). I highly recommend ‘No Escape’ as your movie film for this weekend. It damn near makes me want to attend some type of survivalist training camp, just so I would know what to do if things ever went that south.