Film review: No Escape

No Escape from US virtue

Friday, 4th September 2015, 2:54 pm
No Escape: Owen Wilson. Picture credit: PA Photo/Roland Neveu/Entertainment One
No Escape: Owen Wilson. Picture credit: PA Photo/Roland Neveu/Entertainment One

East meets west and, as usual, America emerges as the culturally and morally superior force in John Erick Dowdle’s taut thriller set in Southeast Asia.

No Escape was shot on location in Thailand but director Dowdle and his younger brother Drew, who co-wrote the script, remain vague about the geography of this violent, protracted chase set during a bloodthirsty coup.

A climactic sequence set on a river, which supposedly meanders across the Vietnamese border, would logically infer Laos or Cambodia as the backdrop to the wanton carnage.

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Neither nation would want to be connected to the rampant xenophobia on display here so the Dowdles dodge specifics, including the political motivations of their stereotypical characters, and focus instead on propulsive action sequences.

The opening half hour is particularly nerve-racking, cranking up the suspense as a beleaguered American family plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a machete-wielding rabble in a besieged hotel.

All of that sweat-drenched tension evaporates when flimsy threads of realism are slashed in hysterical fashion to engineer a series of hilariously improbable events that defy logic and laws of physics.

Wilson and Bell are an appealing on-screen couple and wring droplets of sympathy for their stricken parents especially when little Beeze shows scant concern for everyone’s safety by constantly complaining she is hungry, wants her teddy, or the toilet, when silence would be golden.

Dowdle orchestrates the fast-paced set pieces with a modicum of flair, stampeding any half-hearted attempts at cultural sensitivity under the feet of his nameless revolutionaries, who intend to repel western capitalism with barbarism and brute force.