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No Escape (810)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 105 minutes.

OK for children.

This is a slam bang actioner about Owen Wilson and his wife, Lake Bell, and their two daughters who come to an unnamed Southeast Asia country bordering on Vietnam and almost immediately find themselves in the middle of a bloody coup. They are stranded and alone with what appears to be the entire country trying to find and execute Americans. It is heart-beating exciting with very good acting by everyone.

Extremely well directed by John Erick Dowdle, who also wrote the script with his brother, Drew, most of the incidents are believable enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, although there is at least one scene that strains credulity to the breaking point.

But reminiscent of one of the dumbest scenes ever filmed, The Thin Red Line (1998) in which Terence Malick had a vicious battle completely stop while one of his characters died in the middle of the battlefield, Dowle has this film come to a stop while Pierce Brosnan, a mysterious Brit who constantly needs a shave, explains to Wilson that everything that’s happening is the fault of America and Britain who send companies in to take over vital utilities and then “own the country,” so it’s all America’s fault. Making it even worse, from a propaganda point of view, Wilson and family are running away to try to get sanctuary in…Vietnam! I’ve quoted Samuel Goldwyn’s wonderful dictum many times before, but it certainly applies to these filmmakers, if you want to send a message, use Western Union.

This is a terrific, heart-stopping film if you don’t let the political message ruin it for you, which it came perilously close to doing for me. It was sailing along when this Blame America First message popped up like a gratuitous slap in the face. I have a law school classmate who refuses to see Hollywood movies because of their political slant. I try to tell him that he misses lots of good entertainment, but many more of these and I’m in danger of agreeing with him.