No Escape (2015 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Erick Dowdle|
|Produced by||Mitchel Litvak|
|Written by||John Erick Dowdle |
|Starring||Owen Wilson |
|Music by||Marco Beltrami |
|Edited by||Elliot Greenberg|
|Distributed by||The Weinstein Company|
|Box office||$54.4 million|
No Escape is a 2015 American action thriller film directed by John Erick Dowdle, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Drew Dowdle. The film stars Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, and Pierce Brosnan, and tells the story of an expat engineer trapped with his family in an unnamed South-East Asian country during a violent uprising.
The film was released on August 26, 2015. It had special sneak previews in the Philippines on August 16 and 17, 2015, as well as multiple pre-screenings throughout the United States before its official release on August 26, 2015 by The Weinstein Company.
In an unnamed South-East Asian country, the Prime Minister closes a deal with a representative of Cardiff, an American company specializing in water systems. After the representative leaves, a group of armed rebels initiate a coup d'état and assassinate the Prime Minister.
Seventeen hours earlier, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), a new Cardiff employee, is flying to the country with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their daughters Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Briegel "Beeze" Dwyer (Claire Geare). After landing, they run into a Briton named Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) who offers them a ride with him and his friend "Kenny Rogers" (Sahajak Boonthanakit), to the Imperial Lotus hotel, where many foreigners are staying. At the hotel, Jack learns that the phone lines, television and internet are down all over the city. He stops by the bar and chats with Hammond. Later that night Jack awakens and finds his wife in the bathroom crying.
The next morning, Jack goes out to buy a newspaper, and inadvertently finds himself in the middle of a confrontation between armed protesters and riot police with riot shields. The two forces clash violently as Jack makes his escape. Eventually, the protesters gain the upper hand and begin killing the police. Jack runs back to the hotel and witnesses the rebels executing an American Cardiff employee out front. A rebel soldier spots Jack, forcing Jack to quickly climb up a fire escape and enter the hotel through a window. The rebels break through the main hotel entrance, despite the hotel workers’ efforts to barricade the doors, and begin indiscriminately slaughtering the staff and guests.
Jack makes it back to his family's room, but learns that Lucy is swimming in the pool downstairs. Jack barely gets to Lucy in time before rebels pour onto the pool area. Meanwhile, a horrified Annie sees the rebels going from room to room, killing the guests. She narrowly manages to keep them out of their room. As Jack returns with Lucy, he encounters a rebel in the stairwell, but Hammond saves him and tells him to get to the roof. Jack's family arrives to the roof and join some of the hotel's guests and staff, who have gathered and blocked the door. On the roof, other hotel tourists warn Jack away from leaning over the edge of the roof, as the rebels below will take a shot at whoever they can see. Jack looks over the roof anyway and sees that hundreds of rebels are gathering at the base of the hotel, and that they have seized most of the city. A French hotel guest interprets what they are chanting ("Don't resist. There will be no prisoners, because [they're] going to kill [us] anyway.", "Blood for water!") Upon questioning an injured hotel bellhop, they learn that the rebels are protesting the foreign corporations' control of the water supply. An approaching helicopter is then heard. Everyone's relief turns to horror as they realize it belongs to the rebels, who open fire on the people below. As Jack's family runs for cover, the helicopter becomes entangled in electrical wires and crashes. Another band of rebels breaks through the blocked door and shoot most of the survivors as Jack and his family jump onto the roof of an office building next to the hotel. Jack looks back and sees the rebels executing the remaining hotel guests and staff before spotting the rebel leader holding up the "Welcome" banner from Cardiff with his photo on it, realizing he is a high-value target.
After climbing to a ledge of the office building they jumped onto, a tank targets the office building and fires into it indiscriminately, killing many people inside. Jack's family hides under some debris as the rebels swarm the building and murder the office workers. The family remains there for the rest of the day, until nightfall with a corpse hiding them. As Jack leaves their hiding place, he is spotted by a looting rebel whom Jack then kills, much to his, and Annie's, horror. They find a map, take clothes from the dead office workers to disguise themselves as locals, and make their way to the American embassy on a stolen moped. On the way, they manage to ride through a crowd of rebel demonstrators; one man notices they are foreigners, but says nothing, upon seeing the two young children riding with him. Upon arriving at the embassy, they find it overrun and deserted and several American guards dead, and have to flee, but not before being seen by a group of rebels, including the leader from the hotel massacre.
The family takes shelter in a Buddhist shrine garden nearby, and are protected by the old property caretaker. The rebels enter the compound and start searching for them. Jack attempts to steal a gun, and Annie comes out from hiding in order to draw attention away from Jack, while Lucy and Beeze hide. After discovering the gun is unloaded, Jack is beaten and restrained. As the group's leader is about to rape Annie, Hammond and Kenny enter the garden and shoot most of the rebels except for the leader, who escapes. The two men take the family to a nearby brothel, which they pass through on their way to the large tower on the roof. As they eat, Hammond explains that he and Kenny work for the British government. He and other agents talked the former government into making deals with companies like Cardiff. As these deals allowed the companies to "own" the government through debt, they angered the people, which led to the uprising. Hammond explains that their plan is to get to the nearby river, commandeer a boat, and sail across the border to Vietnam, where they hope to receive asylum.
As their children sleep, Annie and Jack tearfully tell each other that they have no regrets on their life together, preparing themselves for the fact that they could likely die the next morning. Before they can enact their plan, the group is attacked by rebels, who kill Kenny and wound Hammond. Hammond sacrifices himself to disable a rebel truck following them. Near the riverbank, Annie and the kids hide as Jack finds a fisherman and trades his watch and shoes for a boat. The fisherman hears the rebels approaching, and hides Jack beneath an old boat. Not long after, the leader who escaped earlier comes back with another group, captures Jack, and prepares to execute him. Lucy leaves her hiding place, distracting the group leader, whose shot hits Jack's shoulder. The leader then catches Lucy, puts a gun in her hand and one to her head and orders her to kill Jack. She refuses, but Jack encourages her to shoot him (to potentially save herself). Before Lucy can make a choice, Annie intervenes and hits the leader in the head, and bludgeons him to death with an oar while Jack grabs the man's gun and kills the remaining rebels.
The family board a boat and paddle downriver toward the Vietnamese border. They are spotted by a group of rebels, but keep paddling. Although the Vietnamese border patrol warns the family, at gunpoint, not to enter Vietnam, they take no action to actually stop them, and as soon as the boat crosses the border marker, the border patrol warn the rebels against attacking the family as they are now in Vietnamese waters and if the rebels shoot, they will consider it as an act of war, and would use fatal force against the rebels. As the family is retrieved by the border guards, they embrace each other, having finally reached the end of their ordeal. Later, in a hospital, Jack and Annie narrate to the kids the story of how Lucy was born, a story the two daughters asked to hear about earlier in the movie.
- Owen Wilson as Jack Dwyer, a new Cardiff employee (originally an American civil engineer) and Annie's husband.
- Lake Bell as Annie Dwyer, Jack's wife.
- Sterling Jerins as Lucy Dwyer, Jack and Annie's older daughter.
- Claire Geare as Briegel Dwyer, Jack and Annie's younger daughter, also known as "Beeze".
- Pierce Brosnan as Hammond, an operative for Her Majesty's Secret Service.
- Sahajak Boonthanakit as "Kenny Rogers", a local man who runs a Kenny Rogers-themed taxi service, but who is actually Hammond's partner.
In 2012, it was reported that Owen Wilson would star in an action film called The Coup, and the tone of the film was described as akin to Taken (2009), centering on an American family that moves to Southeast Asia and finds themselves "embroiled in a violent coup where rebels mercilessly attack the city". Later, during the Cannes Film Festival, it was reported that Pierce Brosnan had joined the project, with his role being a "mysterious and ultimately heroic government operative", a nod to his role as James Bond. John Erick Dowdle, known for several horror films, and who wrote the script with his brother, Drew Dowdle, was set to direct the film. The two brothers based the script on a near-miss of political upheaval when the Dowdle brothers and their father were going on a trip to Thailand. John explains, "Right before we got to Thailand, a coup overthrew the prime minister. There’d been no previous warning. There was a feeling of anxiety in the air. So I started thinking about that. If it went badly, what would I do?" Michelle Monaghan had joined the cast, playing the wife of Wilson's character.
In August 2013, it was reported that Bold Films would finance the film, replacing Crime Scene Pictures. Later that year, it was reported that Lake Bell had replaced Monaghan, and her character was said to be named Annie Dwyer, and described as a beloved woman appearing to have the perfect family life. Principal photography began on October 31, 2013 in Thailand.
Principal photography began on October 31, 2013, with Thai-based production company Living Films facilitating the shoot. "The producers of the film had a wide choice of countries in which they could have based this production," said Living Films founder and executive director Chris Lowenstein. "The fact that they chose Thailand is a great testament to the skills of the Thai crews and the resources that Thailand offers. We are delighted to help bring this project to the screen." Sierra/Affinity handled international sales of the film. Brosnan joined the crew in December after finishing off his work on How to Make Love Like an Englishman, moving to Cambodia where production was held, with his character reportedly called "Hammond".
On June 10, 2014, it was announced that the film would be released on March 6, 2015. On February 6, 2015, it was announced that the film was retitled to No Escape, and its release was delayed to September 2, 2015. It then again changed, this time to August 26, 2015.
The film was approved for release in Thailand after the film-makers agreed not to identify the country where it was filmed or to portray it negatively. In an interview for The Straits Times, co-writer Drew Dowdle explained "We were very careful not to make it Thailand in the movie, so there was no Thai language used ... None of the signage is Thai and most of the language that the native population is speaking is a combination of Laotian, hill-tribe languages and other languages." The film-makers were also instructed not to use images of the Thai monarchy and to "never show the king or the colour yellow because that's the colour of the king". Director John Dowdle added that they were also told "no Buddhas ... don't do anything bad in front of a Buddha.".
The film grossed $1.2 million on its opening day and $8.1 million in its opening weekend, finishing 4th at the box office.
No Escape received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the action sequences and the acting performances, especially Wilson's dramatic role, but others criticized the lack of character development and anti-climactic ending. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 45%, based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "No Escape's talented cast and taut B-movie thrills are unfortunately offset by its one-dimensional characters and uncomfortably retrograde worldview." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 38 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". The film received an average "B+" CinemaScore from audiences, on an A+ to F scale.
Movie Rehab said, "No Escape is a bright star in a sky of dumbed down, carbon-copy action-thrillers." Toronto Star's Peter Howell questioned the film for its "lack of moral considerations", but overall praised it as being suspenseful and "great entertainment."
Many of the negative reviews for No Escape have labelled the film as xenophobic for its depiction of Southeast Asians. One such review, written by Washington Post's Stephanie Merry, made the claim that "every Asian character is either a ruthless murderer or anonymous collateral damage." Similarly, Seattle Times' Moira Macdonald criticized No Escape as offensive, and concluded: "Just like the Dwyer family, I found myself looking for escape; you might, too." Rogerebert.com's Peter Sobczynski also blasted No Escape for its "borderline xenophobia", but ultimately panned the film for John Erick Dowdle's film direction and "unintentionally comedic" slow motion scenes, summarizing: "Why [Wilson and Brosnan] would choose to appear in something so pandering, mean-spirited and manipulative is beyond my ability to compute but for whatever reason, the end result is that they have landed in one of the most unpleasant films of the year."
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After trailers for the film were released a social uproar occurred in Cambodia over the use of upside down Khmer lettering on the police shields. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has since prohibited the film from being shown in Cambodia. Sin Chanchaya, director of the Department of Film said that the decision to ban the film had come solely based on the trailer and was also informed that in order to receive permission to shoot in Thailand, where several real coups d'état had just taken place, the production team had to arrange that no scenes would directly identify Thailand as the setting. Chanchaya also said that the Cambodian Ministry had approached the film producers to edit the Khmer lettering out of the film but they had not replied by the time of the decision.
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