The Dowdle Brothers' No Escape is a relentless film, depicting one family's emotional journey as they do whatever it takes to keep each other safe. Owen Wilson leads with an enormous amount of courage, while Pierce Brosnan aggressively reminds us that he hasn't aged a bit. No Escape is brutal and raw, written with a strong focus on its very human characters.
Brothers John Erick and Drew Dowdle (As Above/So Below) may be known for their lower studio budget horror films which are actually quite good, but soon they’ll be known for No Escape, because of how well-written, acted and shot it is. No Escape is an escalating thriller that puts you on the very edge of your seat and rarely lets you go. Owen Wilson turns in a dramatic career-best performance that sets itself far apart from his usually light self, while Pierce Brosnan briefly explodes on the screen and reminds us that he’s still got lots of miles left in him.
Lake Bell and the two girls that play Bell & Wilson’s daughters quietly command the screen in ways that surprise and awe. Their performances help highlight the film’s beyond strong script, which was penned by The Brothers Dowdle with a hard sense of realism and the ability to tell such an eye-opening story without ever straying off too far into shock factor for the sake of it.
The Brothers Dowdle are far more focused on telling a story that could happen to anyone of us and they don’t glorify the violence, but instead show us how one might have to deal with such acts of horror when their backs are up against the wall.
No Escape doesn’t mess around. It shakes you and throws you around in all directions as you watch one innocent American family get thrown smack dab in the middle of a coup (an uprising of people against the government) and then face the cruel and harsh realities of life or how they might not have theirs once the night is over.
No Escape isn’t for those that are easily bothered by blood or violence and it isn’t for those that want a straight-forward Hollywood approach to such a story. No Escape is for those willing to invest into a family that might as well be their own thrown up against death around every corner. The film’s realism might unsettle you in ways that you never imagined.
Owen Wilson steps out of his normal realm of comfort and gives perhaps his best “serious” performance to date. Wilson is totally believable as a dad and husband simply trying to make things work for his family, suddenly thrown into complete chaos as he struggles to keep his family safe in a strange new place.
Watching Wilson slowly become unhinged is one of the film’s strongest traits. This is the film that Wilson has been waiting for — he’ll change your mind about him in an instant and I’m so glad that The Dowdle‘s took such a big chance casting him as their lead, because it pays off.
Lake Bell isn’t nearly as big of a name as she should be and No Escape reminds us that she’s one of the best young actresses out their today. She’s not simply pushed back into the role of the protective mother and helpless wife and is instead given just as much intensity as Wilson and it’s refreshing watching a film that’s equally balanced in the writing department for both its leads.
Pierce Brosnan might get a big chunk of the promotion for the film, but he’s actually only in a few scenes, which isn’t a knock towards the man at all and instead a complaint, because I definitely wanted to see him in more.
He does manage to remind us that he’s still got plenty of ass-kicking miles left in him and watching him kick so much ass with such little time is a strong indicator that this man should still be a huge action movie star and not simply the most popular James Bond of all-time.
No Escape shows a significant jump in writing and directing quality for The Brothers Dowdle. The pair have been working together for sometime now and the film’s that they have made have all been ranging levels of decent to good, but No Escape is great — it’s their best film yet and a strong indicator of what true talent they possess when given the right tools and proper budget and casting.
I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
No Escape is a relentless and brutal thriller that shocks and awes not with its blood and violence, but with its powerhouse performances and intelligent script. The Brothers Dowdle deliver a film with almost no excess. No Escape is as well-rounded as they come and it just might surprise you. It’s engaging and terrifying in ways that words can’t do justice.