“No Escape”

 

                I’ve lived in a foreign country before, though temporarily, and therefore know something about the sense of isolation that an American might feel abroad, particularly in a different culture with a different language.  Everything feels just a little off kilter, and that’s only if everything goes right.  If something goes wrong, you can quickly feel that you are without your normal set of resources for coping with an unexpected situation.

                Owen Wilson plays Jack Dwyer, an American engineer who takes a job in an unnamed country in Southeast Asia (It feels like Thailand, and the movie was filmed there, but later considerations point more to Cambodia; perhaps the inexactness is intentional.)  Jack is still apologizing to his wife, Annie (Lake Bell), about the set of circumstances that led them here:  it seems he tried his own start-up company, but it didn’t work out, so now he has to take whatever he can in his field, which has something to do with water purification plants.  Both Mom and Dad try gamely to make this a fun adventure for their two young daughters, but the little girls can’t help but sense the nervousness of their parents.  It doesn’t help that nobody meets them at the airport, but fortunately, they’d met a nice Brit on the plane, Hammond (Pierce Brosnan), who’s staying at the same hotel, and he offers to give them all a lift.

                Though it’s supposed to be a nice hotel, the Dwyers quickly find out that nothing works right:  the lights, the phone, the television…there’s no English-language newspaper; there are no messages from Jack’s new company, much less anyone to greet him at the hotel.  Exasperated, Jack walks outside to try to find a newspaper, and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a riot.  There’s a police line with helmets and shields, and a gang or rabble-rousers with sticks and rocks and Molotov cocktails….and then things explode.

                Suddenly the streets are in chaos, and though Jack has no idea what is happening, his first instinct is to rush back to the hotel to make sure his wife and kids are OK.  That turns out to be a perilous adventure in itself, as things have badly deteriorated.  Jack sees Americans pulled out into the street and shot, along with anyone else who tries to resist the rampaging mob.  Hammond tells them they need to get up to the roof, and that’s a harrowing escape, as well, that turns out to be no safe haven, either.

                The rest of the movie we’re desperately running, with little clue about where to go or how to get there.  They lose track of Hammond, the only person they know.  They’re trying to find out where the American Embassy is, but that turns out to offer no protection, either; the rebels have already overrun it.  How resourceful can you be when all around you is disintegrating?

                The action is intense, and yes, there’s personal violence.  “No Escape” is one of those edge-of-your-seat movies that keeps the adrenalin pumping until the final harrowing scene.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)      Have you ever been in a foreign country,  not on a tour, and felt like a stranger in a strange land?

2)      Have you ever been in a deteriorating situation where you did not have access to your normal resources?

3)      What would you be willing to do, or not do, to protect your family?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas