There’s a reason most action films center on hard-boiled characters who know how to look out for themselves. Ordinary folk are unlikely to flourish in the usual circumstances confronting a James Bond or a Jason Bourne.
So, while the people behind the grueling adventure “No Escape” (Weinstein), led by director and co-writer John Erick Dowdle, can be honored for trying to stretch genre boundaries by plunking an everyday family down in the midst of violent turmoil, their effort is doomed from the start.
The endangered clan in question consists of expatriate businessman Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters, Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare). No sooner have the Dwyers arrived in the Thailand-like country where Jack is about to start a new job than a coup breaks out.
Normally, of course, that would be a matter for the locals to sort through, while protected tourists and foreign residents watched from afar. Unfortunately for the Dwyers, this particular uprising is fueled by murderous anti-American rage, and the hotel where they’re temporarily staying soon becomes a killing ground.
Virtually all of the Asians in “No Escape” come across as inhuman marauding savages. Yet this blatant smear represents an indispensable element of the Dowdles’ flawed premise, which requires the depraved natives to prey relentlessly on their European and American victims.
To paper all this over, the dialogue includes an unconvincing political lecture portraying the whole situation as an unfortunate — but understandable — reaction to the injustices wrought by globalization.
The film contains frequent harsh and sometimes gory violence, emotionally wrenching situations, including a rape scene with partial nudity, a couple of uses of profanity and about a dozen instances each of rough and crude language. (L, R).