If i hadn’t seen the trailer for this film, I wouldn’t have given it the time of day, even on a Sunday. And call me biased, but i’m still not 100% convinced by Owen Wilson as a “serious actor”; especially as I am deeply in love with the film “Midnight in Paris”. It’s definitely an underrated film from the Woody Allen collection.
Either way, I found myself at Milbank Media Centre ready to watch the film with my brother on one side, my sister on the other, a small Americano in front of me and an open mind ahead.
For the review of this particular film, I would like to start with the location. Which means I should also start with an apology as me and my older siblings couldn’t stop placing bets on during the film as to where it is supposed to be set even though it was filmed in Thailand. All we know is that it is next to the boarder of Vietnam which is where the family are trying to get to. Therefore I’ve deduced that the countries it is supposedly meant to be set in are either China, Laos, or Cambodia. But I feel China is too obvious and quite frankly more powerful than the other countries so it must be set in Laos or Cambodia. I don’t know why, or if it was just me, but the location really bugged me especially as they didn’t reveal it in the film or in any plot summaries I read online. However, I am not sure if this vague detail can be part of any reason as to why the film didn’t take off.
Moving on, the film doesn’t start badly but rather starts plotting questions in your head with a watershed moment in the first five minutes. Even though you do not know what it means, you sure as hell know that it’s important. Leaving this in our minds, we are introduced into the action slowly and carefully with ye ol’ slow motion and pristine sound editing. This is when I fell into the film willingly and let myself go. I started to enjoy the horror elements to the film which the film is riddled with. Such as the dramatic irony: when the little girl is in the pool swimming without a care in the world, but she doesn’t know that metres away from her people are being beaten to a pulp; yet of course we do as the audience. (I believe this was also the part me and my sister were gesturing to my brother that if this was us in the film – it would definitely be him.)
There are many stunts in the film which I was quite frankly shocked by, but at the same time enjoyed just at how ridiculous and courageous they were as we as human beings would love to think we would act this way in a situation like this, but we probably wouldn’t even think of half the stunts performed. (Without giving too much away, this is aimed at a scene on top of the hotel building.) I can imagine the director: John Erick Dowdle thought more about how to please his audience more than what we should take from the film, with his experience in horror films. And with that in mind, we must mention Bond number five. If you watch the film, you’ll later see how he is part of all the excitement and heroics with his rather “chirpy” and “blasé” character.
The performance from Owen Wilson was good, but I have to say I much prefer him in “Midnight in Paris”. This could be my biased view talking, but I just don’t feel that seeing him in this kind of film is really his strong point. Not everyone is meant to be a comedy and serious actor, some people are just far more superior in one than the other which I think could be the case for him which isn’t a bad thing at all. However, I take nothing away from him as there were parts where he was swamped in the protective father role, and I really felt for him in his chase to find safety for him and is family.
In this manhunt film where humans attack other humans with brute force (and no boundaries really), it made me think about the concept of the film which I think is absolutely brilliant. Without revealing too much, I felt that even though I don’t agree with the violence from the South East Asian country to all the Westerners and the people that helped or were assosiated with them, I understood where they were coming from. I’m not saying i’m the best person to talk politics with (Uh-oh!), but they are simply biting back at Western countries trying to take control of their own. Who can blame them for that?
The concept of the film is great. I honestly think it is, and so much can be done with it. However, I feel that even though I fell into it, it could have been delivered to the audience much better and with more than just the recipe to excite and thrill; but with respect and feeling and more of a direction. Even though, you want a film like this to keep you on the edge of your seat, it’s not enough to do that for a whole 100 minutes.
No Escape comes out September 4th.