“Are you okay? Are you alright?” says Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson). He’s talking to his wife and daughters. They’re all running for their lives. “I want to go home,” says younger daughter Beeze (Claire Geare). “We know,” wife Annie (Lake Bell) says. Jack is an engineer, sent by Cardiff Inc. to Malaysia to head a new water-purification plant, but government-proposed privatization of water provokes a violent populist revolution and the Dwyers are caught up in it. Can they escape? That’s the setup for this old-fashioned flick, one cliff-hanging episode after another.
Actors in non-stop, on-the-run movies like “No Escape” have little to do except run, leap and shoot. Their lines are mostly “C’mon! Go! Go! Go!” and “Are you okay?” Owen Wilson (an unlikely action hero) and Lake Bell do their best as Jack and Annie Dwyer, saving their young daughters and themselves from violent, Asian revolutionaries. Not that they expected violence on arrival. Jack apologized to Annie. “I wasn’t planning for things to work out like this,” he says about his Asian assignment. “It was my only option.” Annie is dubious. She’s brought her own rice-cooker, not convinced that Asians know what they’re doing. Pierce Brosnan plays Hammond, an enigmatic character, retired (and cynical) British agent, familiar with south-eastern Asian culture and politics after multiple assignments. Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare are Lucy and Beeze, Annie and Jack’s daughters, unhappy that the hotel TV doesn’t work.
Others in the cast include Thai actors Thanawut Kasro and Sahajak Boonthanakit as Samnang and Westernized taxi-driver “Kenny Rogers.”
“No Escape” is non-stop, edge-of-your-seat tension as the Dwyer family tries to extricate itself from rioting homicidal anti-American Asians. “Who’s to blame for all of this?” is an irrelevant question, unanswered except for one, brief and mostly throw-away socio-political lecture by Brosnan in the midst of Act 3 violence. No one is to blame, he says. It’s an unholy alliance between the Western industrial-military complex and corrupt Asian governments. “There’s no good or bad here, it’s just ‘Get your family the hell out,’” he says. His speech is intended to undercut the xenophobic thrust of the movie in which brown people — “Kenny Rogers” excepted — are anti-American. Talk about this on the way home if you elect to see “No Escape.”
Rated R for strong, pervasive violence, language and sexual assault, “No Escape” runs for 103 minutes. Guess who saves the day. I can’ tell you because that would give away the ending. But here’s a hint: VN.
Violent Asian rebels,
Can Owen get away?
If not, there’s “No Escape,”
But who will save the day?