No Escape – the Thailand-based civil war flick starring Owen Wilson, In a World…’s Lake Bell and former 007er Pierce Brosnan – is As Above, See Below helmsman John Erick Dowdle’s latest directorial effort.
After landing a new job in Thailand at Bangkok’s big water company, Jack Dwyer (Wilson), his wife, Annie (Bell), and their two young daughters, Beeze (Claire Geare) and Lucy (Sterling Jerins), head to Asia to begin their new life. Within hours of their arrival, the Dwyers are thrust into the middle of a civil war led by Thai rebels who are killing every foreigner in sight. With the help of a rough looking Brosnan as super secret British man, Hammond – who just so happens to be staying at the same hotel – they must navigate the dangerous rebel controlled streets to find a way to safety.
The age old cinematic adage of the grass isn’t always greener on the other side rings true for the Dwyer family in this disastrously mediocre affair. Despite what you would expect, an opening sequence featuring armed men inexplicably gunning down the Taiwanese Prime Minster is not the first sign of trouble for this film; an early glimpse of Pierce Brosnan’s over-egged, washed-up-Brit-abroad impersonation – with scruffy beard intact – is the film’s first true taste of terror – and a clear sign of things to come.
Wilson, an affable lead who tries his best to mix light-hearted banter with some convincing all-out dread, is hung out to dry by a severely lacking premise which is painted over by heavy-handed slow-motion action (extra slow when jumping’s involved… ) and melodramatic music in an attempt to make up for its lack of authentic drama.
After gaining plaudits for her role in this year’s British rom-com Man Up, Lake Bell turns in an overly hysterical performance as the blubbering mother, whilst both children – equally as annoying as the other – leave a battling Wilson fighting a very lost cause in the credibility stakes.
Brosnan – who, in the film’s final third, we can at least thank for bringing a smidge of clarity as to what the hell had been going on – lands himself as a big contender for death scene of the year, as his Tropic Thunder/Apocalypse Now on-his-hands-and-knees “Come to papa, f**ker!” parady-esque exit brought to an end a truly comical turn as a hammed up southern Brit.
As rebels fly helicopters and drive conveniently placed tanks, the lack of explanation added to the wholly unconvincing action – which effectively involved lots of hiding and jumping over things – laced with cringeworthy family drama, makes watching No Escape a painful and extremely tedious experience, with an unforgivable side helping of Brosnan at his woeful best.