Typically, film reviews award stars as a mark of quality. However, these stars don’t account for the complexity of a reviewer’s reaction. A film (like the forthcoming Life) may have been somewhat of a disappointment, but still gets three stars as it nevertheless has quality elements. On the other hand, a film (like No Escape) may also get three stars, but for completely opposite reasons.
Thus, I will label No Escape accordingly: Surprisingly Good.
Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) works as a… something (Wikipedia says engineer) for Cardiff Water, a company that operates out of… somewhere in Asia. Unfortunately, the second he arrives, bad-guy Asians overthrow the city and start baying for American blood (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Jack and his family must survive and escape this treacherous town, with every corner providing a new threat.
The specifics of the situation aren’t important, and the film relies only on a few basic facts: White People = Good, Most Asians = Bad. The film does throw in a ‘Or are they bad?’ plot point, but to no avail: the psychotic nature of the bad guys doesn’t really elicit empathy.
Simplistic in aim, No Escape works well as a thriller. In a world of ISIS, this film benefits from the oh-god-this-could-actually-happen nature of the events. As soon as Jack drops the map of this unfamiliar city, the tension mounts, with each scene feeling fittingly inescapable.
Nothing feels watered down. The violence is real and even sometimes too in-yer-face, but it gives the film a pulse. The director never allows you a moment to really recuperate, and all it takes is a quick glance out the window to see four more people die and the tension to once again tie you to the edge of your seat.
While Russell Brand may not approve of the film’s racial politics, it’s a tense, simple and enjoyable film: the kind that will soon feature on ITV4 every second Tuesday.
by Rían Smith
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