No Escape tells the story of an American engineer named Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) who brings his family to an unnamed Southeast Asian country after getting a new job in a firm that aims to improve the country’s water supply. His hope of beginning a new life with his family as expats on that country is immediately thrown into a horrifying tailspin when, barely a day has passed in their new environment, the place suddenly explodes into chaos, as rebel militia overruns the country, killing Americans on sight. With all hell breaking loose, Jack must bring his family to safety.
No Escape is probably the most heart-pumping movie I’ve seen this year so far. Really. Among all the suspenseful 2015 films – both action or horror – that I’ve seen so far, there is none that has the same kind of tension-filled and uneasy sequences (there’s this one scene involving Jack’s wife that thoroughly made me sick to the stomach) that this movie has. My palms were sweaty all throughout this movie, and there were more than one time that I found myself holding my breath and then gasping for air.
What makes No Escape more terrifying than a horror film is because its set-up is more realistic. It’s like a zombie apocalypse movie, but without the zombies. Instead of a horde of zombies, it has a horde of murderous and armed rebels. It’s a real-life hypothetical scenario, but has the same sense of frenzy and apprehension that a typical zombie apocalypse tale has. Now, this movie may have some xenophobic undertones as some people pointed out (though I don’t personally buy it), but to be fair, this kind of stuff had happened and is happening.
And because the narrative focuses on a family, not just any group of characters, the stakes are empathetically high. The family dynamic intensifies each perilous sequence that the characters have to go through, as the main character doesn’t only have himself to keep safe and take care of, but his family as well. We really want this family to survive and escape.
Furthermore, being a well-acted movie further helps it in delivering a terrifying, believable, and absorbing narrative. Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, and the two child actors (who played the daughters) really gave compelling performances. Pierce Brosnan, in a supporting role, is also pretty good, though it was easy for me to guess what his role in the story was going to be – it was that predictable.
All in all, despite having some flaws in the plot and production, No Escape is a legitimately gripping thriller with a strong cast and a provocative script.