No Escape translates what a panic attack feels like onto the big screen, the events that unfold are so teeth gritting and tense you’ll need a breather by the time it’s over as the film doesn’t let you take a moment or come up for air. This is one of those films that will most likely improve viewing after viewing, I tend to revisit films very often and I am excited to come back to this one when it's released in January, here are my thoughts on my first viewing of No Escape.
The story follows Jack Dwyer and his family, traveling to Southeast Asia on business. Upon arrival, they find themselves caught up amidst an uprising where the locals turn rebels, killing any foreigners with no remorse and fighting back against Westerners who have been controlling their water supply. Arguably, there could be more substance regarding the politics and social commentary attached to the story, but then you could argue that the lack of knowing and heavier detail makes the intensity of the rebellion so effective.
Owen Wilson shows off his dramatic chops and all I can say is I didn't know he had it in him. His performance as Jack Dwyer, a family man thrown into a heated situation, is easily one of his best. He sells the panic, desperation and devotion to protect his family so well, it's refreshing to see an actor known for mostly comedic roles do something so ballsy and high octane. The same goes for Lake Bell, who continues to impress with her range (Man Up, In A World) This is a performance that sees Bell at her most convincing, and simultaneously raw and terrified. Pierce Brosnan plays it cool as a spy undercover as a holiday-goer, people believe he is trying to relive his 007 days but I feel that couldn't be further from the truth, Brosnan is slick and very different her, you root for his character and that is thanks to his solid acting.
For a budget of $5,000,000, No Escape sure has the look of a much more expensive movie. I'm impressed with all the production values, special effects, stunt-work and scenes of prolonged action. Tanks, helicopters and hoards of rebels flood the streets destroying any opposition and blockage in their path, the trail of ruin in their wake looks like that of huge blockbuster movies and I admire the attention to detail and realism of the situation that's been brought to life here.
So many scenes in this film will have you on edge or shouting at the screen! Best of all sees Jack and Annie leap from rooftop to rooftop to get to safety, only to realise that the only way to save their daughters is to throw them over a dangerously deep drop and catch them in order to flee their pursuers. Director John Erick Dowdle sets the tone superbly, the entire experience is harrowing, airtight and quiet, you find yourself waiting in angst for the next burst of chaos to unleash. The lack of soundtrack works and the cinematography is suitably gritty and captures the essence of the environment, it feels threatening as the camera peers around corners and looms over Jack and his family, making them feel enclosed and surrounded.
No Escape is definitely one to watch, I would even go as far to say it's definitely the most tense and teeth gritting picture of 2015. The performances surprise in terms of depth and realism and the action is so gripping and well executed, you'll find yourself rooting for this unlucky family to make it out alive.