No Escape, film review

(15) John Erick Dowdle, 103 mins Starring: Lake Bell, Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan
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The thriller No Escape has one or two moments of brilliance interspersed with many very silly ones. It is at its best early on. An all-American family (husband-and-wife Owen Wilson and Lake Bell with their two daughters) arrive in an unspecified country in South East Asia where the husband, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), is about to start a new job. Everything throws them. There are power cuts in the hotel where they are staying. They can't work out the motives of the flamboyant but sinister British ex-pat (Pierce Brosnan) who seeks to befriend them. In the best scene in the movie, Jack goes out to buy a newspaper from a shop in what seems to be a deserted street and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a bloody, full-scale revolution.

John Erick Dowdle, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Drew, has an obvious flair for filming action. As long as the family here is in full-flight mode, the film generates plenty of excitement. There are even echoes of The Night of the Hunter as the parents and the little girls flee. The moment the film-makers pause to explain the characters and the background, No Escape collapses. The Americans' jingoistic attitude toward the Asians is very jarring and a speech late on about the consequences of Western interference in the country rings very hollow. Brosnan's initially intriguing performance lapses into action-man, sub-Bond caricature.