No Escape (SPOILERS)
Cert: 15 / 103 mins / Dir. John Erick Dowdle / Trailer
Occasionally, a film will purport a basic premise which threatens to de-rail the entire movie. If the viewer can suspend their disbelief long enough to cross that bridge then that's great, but many will be unable to accept it unquestioningly. Before the political, socio-economic, and survival-morality quandaries are even raised in No Escape (spoiler: they escape), we're expected to believe that a man with a nose like Owen Wilson's and a woman with a nose like Lake Bell's have produced two (two) children with entirely normal, cute little button-noses? Really, mate? Really? *1
Yes, wading into 2015's cinematic waters with the political subtlety of a toddler with a claw-hammer comes John Erick Dowdle's No Escape (spoiler: they escape), in which the aforementioned Wilson and Bell play Jack and Annie Dwyer, a couple who have relocated with their young daughters to an Unspecified Southeast Asian Country™ because of Plot Reasons™ the day before a fully military coup sees a furious mob executing caucasians and their sympathisers because of Plot Reasons™. One things for sure, after the first shots are fired, all bets are off and there can be No Escape! (spoiler: they escape)
As you can probably tell by now, I didn't take this film too seriously. Luckily, No Escape (spoiler: they escape) takes itself so seriously that the audience doesn't have to. It's tightly filmed, and the tension is certainly there throughout, but a walk around Sainsbury's would seem this nerve-wracking if you filmed it in near constant close-up with hand-held cameras. Credit where it's due, the film is certainly well acted, yet the Dwyer family are never more than generic placeholder characters who the audience is meant to relate to purely because of their situation, rather than any character-building which has taken place. Pierce Brosnan is also along for the ride doing his best Ralph Brown, complete with an accent which he maintains 85% of the time.
But as much as The Good Guys™ are pencilled in, The Bad Guys™ fare even worse, and the subplot plot about Western international utility companies encroaching on foreign territories feels like a socio-economic version of white guilt, even though it's a version which doesn't attempt to sympathise with its revolutionaries in any way or even adequately explain the link between foreign ownership of the water company and a group prepared to assassinate the actual president of the actual country*2 (a point which isn't touched upon again after the opening scene in which it happens).
The real problem is that No Escape (spoiler: they escape) can't quite commit to its ultra-realistic style. For all the running, sweating and point-blank gunshots, the screenplay deliberately doesn't name the country it takes place in. Ostensibly an "unknown Southeast Asian" country, since the climax of the film shows that it shares a border with Vietnam, it can only be Cambodia, China or Laos. One school of thought dictates that there was probably a considerable amount of money from the Far East in the funding of the film, so it was thought wisest not to point fingers needlessly. But the thought also lurks at the back of your mind that the screenwriters are saying "oh, it could be any of those, they're all the same aren't they, one step away from revolution at any moment?". I'm sure that second reason's not the case, of course. I'm as absolutely sure of that as I am that for the characters is this film, there is No Escape (spoiler: they escape).
Imagine Die Hard where the building is a city, there's no John McClane, and the terrorists' seem weirdly underexplained. Now imagine that in a week's time that version of Die Hard will be on in the cinema, in three months' time it'll be out on DVD, in six months' time it'll be less than a fiver and then you'll never hear from it again.
That's No Escape (spoiler: they escape).
Telly. Sunday evening.
Well it's competent enough, yet completely unmemorable.
I will look at you blankly as I struggle to remember it myself.
Not that I heard. I suppose the film-makers didn't want to puncture The Realism™.
No Escape features Pierce Brosnan, who made an appearance in The World's End, and Lake Bell who starred in Man Up, both of which were vehicles for Simon 'Dengar in The Clone Wars' Pegg.
*1 Hey, don't get me wrong, I actually love the noses on both of them, my own hooter isn't exactly nondescript, and I know they develop as people move through adolescence (see point two on this list), but the kids might as well be ginger for all the sense it makes in this film…
*2 For viewers in the UK, this would roughly equivalent to the EDL assassinating David Cameron because nPower is owned by a German company. And as ridiculous as that comparison sounds, I imagine its presence in this post is going to generate inadvertent page-hits for some time to come...
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.