No Escape – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

no escapeNo escape – 3/5 – There’s many things in films that take fiction and spin it with real world inspiration.  These inspirations can be political, social or international events.  No Escape is a film that takes a look at a very typical kind of ‘uprising’, but through the perspective of trapped foreigners.  This movie has a lot of intense situations that will strike an emotional cord.   Even with those strengths, there are too many common film clichés and directive choices that make this experience an average one.

Premise: An American family find themselves caught in a political uprising.  With no choices or help from the outside world, they must find a way to escape the deadly rebels before they find and kill them.

There are few characters in the film.  As the main players, you have:

Owen Wilson as Jack Dwyer

Lake Bell as Annie Dwyer

Pierce Brosnan as Hammond

With Owen Wilson in a different kind of lead; he provides strong accolades to this typical-styled character.  As Jack Dwyer, he gives you a husband that must ‘find a way’ to save his family.  Through his interactions and raw emotional attributes; Wilson does a good job in showing human rawness through unexpected circumstances.  When faced with everything against him, Wilson shows you that instincts play more importantly than trying to make the right choice.  With Lake Bell playing his wife, it gives the film a dire complexion as well as a very important focal point for his ‘purpose’ (along with his kids).  There dynamic as husband/wife is very common in a drama style film, but it is one that provides some worth throughout the film.  Pierce Brosnan is your typical ‘side’ character.  He provides a focal point for the exposition, plot points and otherwise a ‘connection’ to progressing through scenes that don’t make much sense at times.  There’s a lot potential in the character Hammonds, but it gets wasted with the direction of the film.  Even with the waste, Brosnan still does a great job showing how he can ‘command’ a role in his lack of screen time.  The secondary characters have no real character development in the film.  They are practically just there for the body count.  This common perspective of characters is used to give you a ‘realistic’ perspective of tie circumstance of the uprising happening in this Asian country.

The direction of this film is your typical on-the-run/escape style thriller.  You have as followed:

First act – Introduced to the main characters, side character(s) and setting of the film.   Explicit scenes (expositional) lead to the inevitable on-the-run/escape scenario.

Second act – Linear progression of the film’s plot.  There is a mixture of high-stakes scenarios with ‘last chance’ syndrome story technique.  Intense/realistic situations add to quick pace but sheds light of lack of plot/character development.

Third act – Rushed climax of predictable ‘no hope’ choice scenario and ‘last chance’ syndrome story technique; ho hum epilogue with ‘family’ ending.

The film is very short for what it is trying to develop within its running time.  From the start, you are introduced to the Dwyer family.  Jack Dwyer is going to be working overseas and brings his family along.  After they settle in their hotel room, the film quickly movies into its ‘plot’ when they get caught up in the political coup from the uprising.  With the rebels killing everyone (including foreigners), they must find a way to survive long enough to get out of the country.  Even with the strong pacing and intense action, what makes the experience average is the lacking character development.  When it comes to movies that dramatize a real-life situation; there should be an importance to build some depth with the family.  This provides a raw emotional attachment for the audience.  When you develop this kind of attachment, it heightens the ‘no hope’ style situation.  When you don’t do this, the glaring problems of the film come to the front.  You see a lot of predictable foreshadowing, generic A to B style direction and the overused technique of the Last Chance Syndrome.  This technique is used when the character(s) are trapped in a worst case scenario and at the last second, something miraculous happens to help/save them.  This happens way too much in the film.  When this happens, it halts the pace of the film, drowns the intensity of the tone and puts a limelight on the incomprehensible plot holes.  The ultimate dagger is that it kills the realism the film is trying to portray, where you have to suspense disbelief to the unrealistic choices the director takes to link scenes in a cohesive fashion.  Even so, the film still keeps moving along, leaving those holes aside and focusing on the grittiness of the action sequences and charisma of the actors/actresses that are in the leads.  This helps keep the film steady.  Once we get to the climax, it is predictable to the most common degree.  The hollowness drowns any belief something bad will truly happen.  The epilogue rolls along and you just feel like there could have been so much more with such a realistic styled story.

The visuals are a strong point in the film.  With a realistic look at a political uprising/revolution; you get a grounded approach.  Combined with the naturalistic lighting through a war-torn urban landscape, the grounded approach helps provide a heighten sensation to the unexpected action and horrific deaths that happen.  This allows you to feel the violence and hopeless situation of the characters in a different way.  The score adds another depth to the visuals; adding layers to the tension when the rest of the film doesn’t.  The music harkens with ‘loud’ orchestra elements with slow/methodical low sounds.

No Escape is a film that will appeal to the thriller enthusiast, but isn’t a movie that will stand out as truly amazing.  Even with its glaring plot holes and simplistic direction, there is fun to be had.  I recommend this as a matinee; nothing more than that.

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