This could be a great new start for Jack and Annie Dwyer and their kids. True, moving to something of a third-world Southeast Asian country will be a considerable shock to their Texas-born sensibilities, but they'll adapt.
It's exotic, after all. And it's a great opportunity, too. Jack's employer, Cardiff, is a big and prosperous multinational company with execs who are mostly Americans. So it won't be totally foreign.
But for the moment, we're still stuck on the adapting part of the equation: Their first morning there, Jack had to walk five blocks from their hotel just to find a paper in English. It was three days old. OK. He can deal with that in exchange for all the good laced through this adventurous reassignment.
It wasn't really until he got caught up in a mob-vs.-police confrontation in the crowded streets that Jack felt his first pang of real concern. As he made his way back to the hotel and things grew to the size of a riot, he grew worried. And when his walk turned into a panicked scramble that wound up with another American being executed right in front of him, well, Jack was officially scared out of his Adidas.
Turns out there was a coup the night before. The prime minister was assassinated. And the country is now totally toxic to all foreigners. As the populace rampages and Westerners are being butchered in the sweltering streets, it becomes apparent that the Dwyers have made a very big mistake coming here. It's time to get out.
If that's even remotely possible anymore.
The Dwyers were a close-knit family to begin with. Now the turmoil of their situation and almost torture-level torment unleashed upon them by the angry locals bonds them even more. They repeatedly and tearfully speak of their love for one another. Jack and Annie cling to their children, and each other, throughout—when one starts to falter, the other is instantly there to lend support. In fact, when Jack thanks Annie for sticking by him but laments the outcome of that choice, Annie lists all the many familial blessings she would have missed if her life had been any different. "If we die tomorrow, it would have been all worth it," she tells him. So it almost goes without saying that this mom and dad devotedly put their lives on the line for each other and their kids.
A British expat named Hammond spots something in this family, too. He has a checkered past, but in a sort of self-redemptive effort he strives to help the Dwyers, even to the point of dying to protect them. Several locals also risk helping the Dwyers, even though that puts them in danger.
We see several shrines and Eastern religious statues in building windows and in a large garden area.
We see Annie in a bikini top. Hammond talks leeringly of the "charms" of local women and his decision to go to a "strip joint." One scene hints at the idea of women being trafficked into prostitution and Hammond’s “appreciation” of them.
A thug punches Annie, slams her down on a flat surface, rips open her shirt (showing her bikini top) and moves to rape her. (He's stopped.)
For the majority of this film ruffians riot, destroying buildings and property. They kill police, government officials, hotel employees and Westerners with guns, machetes and bludgeons. Blood spews and splashes.
A tank shoots shells into a business building, demolishing ceilings and floors and killing its occupants. A helicopter opens fire on a crowd of innocents before getting tangled in a wire, crashing and exploding. Men are executed at point-blank range with a bullet to the head. Crowds pummel policemen with clubs and machetes. People of all ages are slapped and beaten. Many of the shot and beaten lie in pools of their own blood. We see bloodied corpses scattered around the streets and in buildings and hotel rooms. One thug with a machete in hand is shown covered in blood spatter and standing over the dead. Four men are forced to kneel in the street where they're executed by a speeding truck. (The camera cuts away just before impact.) A man is engulfed in a firebomb's flames. Another slices his own throat open.
Jack and Annie are both forced to kill to protect their family. (They are horrified by the necessity.) Jack throws both of his young daughters across what looks to be a 10-foot span between rooftops. With a gun pushed against her head, one of the young girls is ordered to shoot someone. Anguished, Annie listens to the screaming of another family being attacked and killed.
Crude or Profane Language
About a dozen each of f- and s-words. Jesus' name is abused (once), as is God's (a couple of times). There are one or two each of "h---," "d--n" and "b--tard."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Hammond downs shots and gets visibly drunk at a bar. He also smokes hand-rolled cigarettes. Jack drinks a beer. Hammond escorts the Dwyers through an opium den (we see drugged men smoking the narcotic) on the way to finding a safe hiding place.
Other Negative Elements
Hammond is a man of lies. He tells the family they're eating seasoned chicken, for instance, when it's really boiled dog. It's revealed that the U.S. and British governments, along with corporate entities, had a hand in causing the local coup and unrest.
People who love, understand fear. They know vulnerability. For there's always going to be some threat to the people you love in this volatile earthly existence—from determined predators to dangerous accidents. And if you're a parent raising a young child, that fear and worry is multiplied exponentially. That's a fact of nature.
And it's a fact that turns No Escape into something of a horror film.
This pic presents a world chock-full of bloody rage, inhuman mob violence and foul profanity. And that's bad enough to sit through all on its own. But it gets its real terror from the fact that we can so closely identify with parents Jack and Annie.
Like us, they're no action heroes. They're certainly courageous and resourceful. But they're not trained to defend themselves against mobs of rabid killers. They don't pack assault rifles with extra clips. They're just packing a pair of shell-shocked young girls and trying to find some way out of the hell around them. They're willing go to any length, leap any chasm to shield their loved ones, even if they have to do it with little more than their own lacerated flesh.
We understand that. Intrinsically. Deeply. And it makes this film scarier than any monster mash. It makes it immersive, driving, life-affirming, disturbingly ugly and white-knuckle terrifying, all in equal measure.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Owen Wilson as Jack Dwyer; Lake Bell as Annie Dwyer; Pierce Brosnan as Hammond; Sterling Jerins as Lucy Dwyer; Claire Geare as Beeze Dwyer; Sahajak Boonthanakit as Kenny Rogers
August 26, 2015
November 24, 2015