No Escape

 

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A by-the-numbers thriller could not be more contrived but still delivers the thrills.

 
No Escape

Paradise lost: Owen Wilson and Lake Bell

 

Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) is a Texan engineer who’s just got a promotion and is being transferred to a tropical paradise – along with his beautiful wife (Lake Bell) and their two gorgeous daughters. However, no sooner have they moved into the imposing Imperial Lotus Hotel than there’s a military coup and the rebels start to systematically execute all foreigners on the street. It’s not long, then, before the rebels break into the Imperial and smash down the doors of each hotel room and club the occupants to death…

 

It’s a truly nightmarish scenario and director John Erick Dowdle brings his background in horror (Quarantine, Devil) to the fore in what is essentially a by-the-numbers frightfest. While the Thai locations add considerable colour, No Escape skirts round any real ethnic understanding of the place, an unnamed locale (Laos?) just two miles from the Vietnamese border. But, having established the lovability of his nuclear American family – and you don’t get much more appealing than Owen Wilson and Lake Bell, comic talents both – than Dowdle sets up some pretty heart-pounding action sequences, only to jolt them out of their efficacy by introducing slow motion. Thus, the terrifying reality of the moment is repeatedly reduced to the artifice of cinema.

 

The apparition of Pierce Brosnan as a grizzled good-time Charlie merely throws the film off-balance, particularly as it’s hard to pin down his accent. But we know that Pierce Brosnan is here for a reason, and his addition to the mix is just one of a number of predictable beats. Nonetheless, the film certainly provides the thrills, although it’s not exactly The Killing Fields.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WISLON

 

Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Sterling Jerins, Claire Geare, Pierce Brosnan.

 

Dir John Erick Dowdle, Pro Mitchel Litvak, David Lancaster and Drew Dowdle, Screenplay John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, Ph Léo Hinstin, Pro Des Arvinder Grewal, Ed Elliot Greenberg, Music Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, Costumes Annie Bloom.

 

Bold Films/Brothers Dowdle-Entertainment One.

103 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 4 September 2015. Cert. 15.