There’s a legitimately hair-raising sequence early in No Escape that left me traumatized. Owen Wilson and his wife Lake Bell have traveled with their two daughters to a conspicuously unnamed country in Southeast Asia where he’s supposed to start a new job at a shady-sounding multinational corporation. Unfortunately for the citizens of this non-existent country – but even more unfortunately for our white movie stars – there’s been some sort of barely explained coup and now throngs and throngs of sinister-looking yellow people are swarming the streets with machetes and machine guns, indiscriminately murdering everyone in sight.
Wilson and Bell soon find themselves stuck on the rooftop of their hotel, where folks are being mowed down left and right. Wilson figures their only chance for survival is to get to the roof of the building next door. He and his wife can probably make the jump, but what of the children? So it is decided that Bell must leap across first, then it’s up to Daddy Dearest to pick up the kids and hurl them across the chasm into their mother’s arms. This is an absolutely horrifying plan, and seeing the kids pitched off the ledge at that height can’t help but trigger a sickly, lizard-brain visceral reaction. It’s a crude scene, and damned effective.
The rest of No Escape is just plain crude. It’s also a piece of stupid xenophobic trash, released at a time when another piece of stupid xenophobic trash is surging in the polls for the Republican Presidential nomination, so The Weinstein Company might have a hit on their hands. Director John Eric Dowdle (who co-wrote the script with his brother Drew) has a background in junky, found-footage horror movies like Quarantine and As Above, So Below. The Dowdles could have easily made this into a zombie movie without changing more than a few words of their screenplay. It’s just hordes of faceless, murderous “others” chasing our movie stars around a city in ruins. No Escape looks like World War Z, except with Asians.
There’s something begrudgingly spectacular about the film’s commitment to nastiness. It’s mean, ugly button-pushing all-around – not even bothering to invent a fictional country nor to give any reason for the coup. It simply plays out like every Trump supporter’s worst nightmare of what happens when decent, hard-working white Americans venture abroad, only to find poor folks who look different from us running amok trying to murder our children and rape our women. (I’d say No Escape was the most racist movie of the year, except Me and Earl and the Dying Girl also came out this summer.)
You don’t get to see much of what makes Wilson and Bell such appealing screen presences. They’re mainly here to run. The only actual “acting” is done by Pierce Brosnan in another one of his showy, delectable turns as a scarred-up 007 gone to seed. (He’s aging into such an interesting performer, I look forward to the day someone finally puts him in a decent movie.) Brosnan’s best bit is at the beginning when he contemplates changing into sweatpants before hitting his favorite strip joint, “so they’ll know I mean business.”
Less compelling is his bizarre, late-movie monologue about how this while coup and subsequent mayhem (still conveniently never explained) is all his fault because agencies like his paved the way for corporations like Wilson’s to bleed Third World countries dry. So, sorry Owen, but all those guys I shot in the head while they were trying to rape your wife probably had legitimate grievances. Oh well.
It’s a terrible idea for a movie this willfully ignorant and predicated on pandering to audiences’ worst impulses to suddenly try and feign some sort of political understanding in the final reel. Even more risible is the escape that defies the title. “Keep paddling, there’s Vietnam!” should be a line loaded with so much awful irony, but here it’s treated as a triumph.
13 thoughts on ““No Escape” Is Crude, Xenophobic Trash”
Pingback: NO ESCAPE | SPLICED PERSONALITY
Pingback: BOFCA REVIEW ROUND-UP: 08/28/2015 | Boston Online Film Critics Association
Is someone paying you to tell lies, or what?
The reason for the coup was Wilson’s company messing with the country’s water. Like Quantum of Solace. YOU ALLUDE TO IT IN THIS REVIEW. DUH. They even built on to it during the building jump scene. Were you busy smoking a bong in the theater?
Only a small group of rebel nationals were being violent. The only rebels I recall being killed were in defense situations. Many other nationals risked their lives to be helpful, and even a rebel sympathizer seemed hesitant to harm the family.
I don’t recall a scene in World War Z with a majority of peaceful zombies that risked their lives to protect a family from a small group of rebel zombies wearing distinctive scarves. Was that a deleted scene?
The rebel “zombies” also killed peaceful “zombies” that didn’t appear to be any threat to them.
The movie explained that white people are the real problem, and everyone else is
just a victim of white people. Vietnam is portrayed as a safe haven for U.S. citizens. Wondering if Michael Moore was involved.
Otherwise, being immersed in a foreign culture could be disorienting. That’s just reality.
Anyone who watches this with a functioning brain will see that you lied about the movie, like you slandered Trump. Why did you bother lying?
What a joke of a review. Keep your elementary, irrelevant political opinions out of this. You’re going nowhere.
What a moron. Yes, it was one family’s experience in a foreign land. They don’t speak the native language so it is a bewildering scenaio for them as they try to escape. The movie blames it on powerful countries like the U.S., misusing the poor in other countries. Finally, yes a lot of the native people don’t have their characters developed that much (see the language thing again, the main characters don’t know what they are saying), but neither do the other Americans/British etc. that are killed. Only two other characters outside the family are developed, a native and british born individual. But hey moron, keep telling lies.
Why would I listen to your review when you put your own personal politics front and center, announcing that you are just a vociferous bomb throwing moron?
If you want an audience to read your work, try to not piss off 1/2 of the country.
I laughed so hard when I saw the Trump reference. What Trump has to do with a family caught in a Southeast Asian coup is beyond me. I bet the reviewer sees racist undertones in his Cheerios.
It is odd. All the critics who have used the words “risible” and “xenophobic” to describe the film, along with the zombie movie comparison (seriously, go look at Rotten Tomatoes, there must be over a dozen). Which either means that the film inherently is those things, or that critics are primarily all like-minded, unimaginative, self-appointed protectors of the dumb masses who could never process a film the same way they could.
We already went through this with Zero Dark Thirty. All the critics had to have important discussions about how the public would interpret the message that torture works, but it was never a concern that the clever movie critics displaying the condescending concern would get said message. Thems is wayyyyy to clever.
It would be scary to be in a foreign country during a coup. That’s the premise.
Critics are making a big deal over the protagonist being blonde, blue-eyed Owen Wilson, but if they hired Asian actors as the family in peril, they probably wouldn’t have stood out in the crowds quite as much, would they?
A premise is a premise, not a message. We can’t watch Looper and then give it a D- because time travel doesn’t exist and the film is trying to tell us otherwise. But we can critique a Harry Potter film for introducing time travel at the end of one adventure, then never using it again.
I’m sure the rest of the world watches movies like The Purge, Judgement Night and Training Day well aware that they are watching a fictional story, and use their brains and actual knowledge of the world to base their opinions of The U.S. on.
That’s a thing all humans can do. Even the ones who aren’t movie critics.
“But we can critique a Harry Potter film for introducing time travel at the end of one adventure, then never using it again.”
-You sunovabitch! I won’t be able to get that out of my brain next time I watch the series.
I just looked at all the reviews at the vast majority of negative reviews were SJW virtue signalling nonsense and had zero to do with the actual film. The reviews say more about the reviewer than anything. They like to pretend the real world doesn’t exist, like for instance….that coups don’t happen with alarming regularity in some parts of the world where *gaps* people aren’t white! *sigh*. How people can get shit on for making a movie about situations that actually do happen is beyond me. I’m quite sure the writer wasn’t thinking “Man I hate those yellow people. They are awful and violent and I need a movie to expose them to the world”.
I love that people are addressing the harshness of all these No Escape reviews from professional critics. ^_^
I think we are being a bit too harsh on the film. I agree, some things were lame such as where was the country (I presume China), what James Bond was trying to tell us about him starting the war, and why all of this craziness was happening and what the beginning sequence was supposed to tell us.
Aside from those shady details, the movie in my opinion delivered in terms of keeping you glued to your seats. They kept you locked in with suspense and like the characters you were left trying to figure out what was going on. I was freaking out when his daughter was in the pool lol… but yeah. To me it went well until the Embassy part… after that, well I was just waiting for the resolve. Then we got a deus ex machina, and it was done. But regardless, I think the movie deserves some credit. You all love crap like Fast and Furious which is filled with worse crap, but movies like this get bashed lol. I think this movie can escape some of the hate, because it did capture you with the suspense.
Man this movie was so fucked up , that I went online to find people who thought the same ! I live in Germany and waited all night for the Green Bay and Detriot game , that came on at 2:25 in the morning . I still could not sleep after that so I put this movie on …..This is some of the most racist shit I’ve have seen this yr ! If you have no weed , or drink with you … Don’t watch this bullshit ! Yo Owen !! Stick to your lame ass comedy that ya do .
I had to click your link from the Rotten Tomatoes page. Good lord, you brought xenophobia and Donald Trump into this movie review? WTF? Did all that virtue signalling get you laid? Didn’t think so. Oh well, enjoy your president!