No Escape from “No Escape”

By Stephen Fasulo II

It’s a bad sign for your Pierce Brosnan action film when Owen Wilson carries the movie. No Escape is an action film that misses almost every mark that it sets up. The premise is a bit off-putting; Wilson goes to a Southeast-Asian country as a member of a team of engineers who are sent to purify the drinking water…or some other noble endeavor. Wilson’s job is just a plot device to present family problems that resolve themselves as soon as the expected rebellion begins (don’t worry, the opening scene is the fancy, affluent dictator being killed by the raggedy rebels so no spoilers).
Wilson plays the helpless survivor dad, Lake Bell plays the damsel-in-distress turned action mom, and the family is rounded out by kids who aren’t ever grating. The action isn’t bad either; there are tension filled scenes where Wilson and his family evade an almost comically evil villain. The movie is masterful at taking away hope, but there is also the occasional break where the characters have a bit of luck. It’s good action, but then Pierce Brosnan appears and the movie falls down.
Like last year’s Godzilla with Bryan Cranston, the billed celebrity is absent almost the entire movie, but unlike Godzilla, this a boon for No Escape. Brosnan has a bit in the beginning where he happens to meet the family. He gives them a ride, shares a drink with Wilson, and then disappears. Then, in a truly gripping scene where rebels are about to kill the family, he shows up, quips with his “hilarious” sidekick, who is a fan of Kenny Rogers (that’s all you get for characterization by the way), and generally ruins the tone.
Brosnan played James Bond once, but Bond antics, including a terribly clichéd death that gives Brosnan one more chance to be relevant, have no place in a tense thriller.
Aside from the borderline racist and terrible Brosnan, the movie is okay. It is tense enough to get you engaged, it has characters that have the crap beaten out of them, and never has a moment where the characters really shouldn’t have survived. The action is real, the actors do a good job with terrible material, and Wilson is compelling. But a misuse of Lake Bell and a twenty minute period where Brosnan pontificates about how America’s corporate controllers are making slaves out of lesser countries, breaks what could have been a solid action film.
Give it a miss, or watch it on Netflix in a month after your Dad calls you and says it’s “so true to real life.”

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