No Escape Review
I want to get something out of the way before I really dig deep into "No Escape." I think Owen Wilson is great actor, and he might have the most dimensions as a performer compared to most of the more comedic-oriented crowd he comes from. I think if the guy is ever given the right role, he could win an Oscar. If "No Escape," proves anything, its that Owen Wilson does the family man stuff superbly. If you liked Wilson in "Marley and Me" and thought he was a great dad in that, then you will absolutely love him here. I don't know much about Wilson's life outside of all acting, but he nails the family man stuff down time after time. He makes all the material shine in "No Escape," and he makes the movie seem believable, even in its most absurd of moments.
I should have read earlier that "No Escape" was going to be more akin to "Taken," because I would have skipped it completely. I could go the rest of my life without ever seeing another "Taken" movie, or any of the clones of it that Liam Neeson loves to star in. Imagine if a non-CIA version of Bryan Mills took his family to an unnamed country in Southeast Asia, and they moved in right smack dab in the middle of a political coup, that's "No Escape." Its another "Taken" drone in a long, overwhelming line of "Taken" drones. As far as action movies go, it makes all of the genre's biggest mistakes and never gets over any of its cliches. I have loved several action movies. I will go as far to say that I have loved several silly action movies, but "No Escape" is one of those movies so silly that it take me out of the movie. At no point do I believe that a big business, family man can all of sudden shoot like James Bond at the drop of a dime. I am sorry, but that type of shit is lazy to me.
Wilson is very good in it, Lake Bell who plays Wilson's wife is very good. I even like Sterling Jerlins and Claire Geare who play his daughters. They create a beautiful and believable family, and there are moments where they make the silliest parts of the movie sincere. But they can't coast. They are basically playing the typical dysfunctional family that brings itself together at just the right moment. There is also a lazy subplot about the parents not telling their youngest daughter about the day she was born, and you better believe that after the whole ordeal that was the movie ends, they resort to finally telling the story, complete with the world's cheesiest final line of a movie. There are lazy tension spots that you can predict from a mile away. Oh, and there is of course a brief, near rape scene just so we can feel bad for one of the female characters. Seriously, I think its requirement now in Hollywood that when something terrible has to happen to a woman, it has to be an "almost-rape" really, I don't get it.
Had the movie been about how a family and Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) escape a coup country, I might have liked it a little bit more. Yes, Brosnan is channeling Bond and the recent, sudden action men he's been playing recently, but he does it well, and he helps us buy into the premise. It would be much more believable if a family had to survive along side Hammond, one of those characters who sometimes appears in movies like this, a man who works as a shadowy government agent but never truly tells the audience exactly what they already know. Its much more believable than a family man, all of a sudden knowing how to shoot, but I guess that would have been a lot less commercial.
What bothered me most of all is that "No Escape" really embraces the "Taken" motif. Its another movie in the line of films that says all of the worlds hates us Americans and if we were to travel to any destination except in good old America, then we would be attacked, killed and our daughters would be thrown into the world of forced prostitution. I know not everybody loves us Americans, but that doesn't mean that LITERALLY, EVERY DESTINATION IN THE WORLD wants us all dead. That's a little extreme. If we are wondering why much of the world doesn't take us seriously anymore, whether they like us or not, well they might want to study the movies we are making right now. I am sure they get a good idea of what we think of the rest of the world.
So while "No Escape" features some outstanding performances by its ensemble, there isn't much else to recommend. "No Escape" is an action movie that embraces the wrong action cliches. Its a movie that is dopey, illogical and xenophobic. Here's to hoping that Hollywood quits recreating "Taken" because that ship has long passed.
FINAL GRADE: C-