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
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.