HOLLYWOOD—You might walk into the theater seeing the movie “No Escape” with very little expectations, but you will walk out the theater being thoroughly surprised by how entertaining the movie actually is. The film stars Owen Wilson as Jack Dwyer, who is vacationing with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two daughters, Lucy and Beeze, in Southeast Asia.
Jack is preparing to start a new career as an American engineer overseas, but soon discovers that he is in the middle of a battle zone. He makes a friend in British expat Hammond, played by the always suave Pierce Bronsan. Think of Hammond as James Bond, but without all the high-tech gadgetry and the women swooning all over him. When it becomes apparent to Jack that the authorities and a group of rebels looking to take over the city are at odds, it becomes evident to the spectator this is a tale about survival.
Wilson is known for the comedy trope, so to see him delve into his dramatic chops and deliver so effectively is astounding and fun to watch unfold on the screen. He’s the hero the audience would least expect, yet he’s very convincing in that role.
“No Escape” definitely harbors some gut-wrenching moments that will toggle at the emotional heartstrings of the viewer. I mean, that scene where the parents are throwing their kids from one rooftop to the next left me holding tightly to the theater seat. Without spoiling too much, there are also those scenes where all seems lost, and I mean it seriously feels like our protagonists have come to the end of the line.
This is structured to perfection by writers and brothers Drew and John Erick Dowdle. John, who helms the director’s chair, knows how to balance action, storytelling, character development and suspense in a way that gets the spectator further sutured into the movie and to the characters on the screen. What works so well about the thriller “No Escape” is it is a testament to the power of family; I liken the flick to the disaster film “The Impossible” starring Naomi Watts, but with a higher level of violence and tyranny.
The Sawyer clan endures challenge after challenge, and just when you think Jack has run out of fuel or Annie has no other options to protect her family, the kids step up to the plate or they devise a plan to secure their safety.
While “No Escape” might not be the easiest film to watch, it is indeed a movie that delivers on multiple fronts and lets the world know while Owen Wilson might be a funny guy, he can handle drama just as well, better than some might expect.