It doesn’t take much brainpower to understand that the continent of Asia is vast and diverse: ethnically, religiously, linguistically and culturally. It also doesn’t take advanced degrees in anthropology from prestigious institutions of higher learning to understand that a farm in Malaysia is far more different than a temple in Cambodia. Unfortunately, the filmmakers of “No Escape” think differently.
Jack (Owen Wilson) is an American engineer who takes his family to an unknown country in Southeast Asia — because apparently they’re all the same – so he can work with an American company. They meet Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) a British expatriate, which apparently makes him an expert of the country that will from here on be referred to as Najin-Rasson. Why? Because the filmmakers did not take the few brain cells they have to think of a name for a fake country in Southeast Asia, as they would have for a fake country in Europe such as Genovia or Arrendelle. But I digress.
Najin-Rasson is engulfed by civil unrest after a rebel group assassinates the prime minister. This is of course is no issue to Jack, because he just wants to know why he can’t watch “The Big Bang Theory” while surfing the web in his hotel room. The reason, according to the front desk, is because the Internet is down throughout the entire city. From there on, Jack just assumes that’s how things are done in Najin-Rasson. It is not until he goes out to find a newspaper that he witnesses violence between the police and the rebels.
The most unsettling aspect of this film is not the Michael Bay-esque (of “Transformer” fame) shooting style or the preposterous plot. Instead it is the way that people from Southeast Asia are portrayed. The people of Najin-Rasson are apparently a force of nature, not unlike zombies or a tornado, who roam the country killing and destroying everything within reach. Also, they automatically know how to operate helicopters and tanks and whatever other pieces of machinery could be used to quench their thirst for American blood.
There’s a scene where they catch Jack and force him to watch as they viciously begin raping his wife, Annie (Lake Bell). Warning: the following sentence has never be uttered with enthusiasm without being some sort of consequence for millions of people. But never fear, a British person is here! Hammond suddenly arrives and saves the Americans from the animals. If you think this is racist, that’s because it is. It gets worse.
I am moving on to the filmmakers. John Eric Dowdle (also the director) and Drew Dowdle are the writers of this film, as well as “As Above, So Below,” a film about explorers who discover a portal to hell. Apparently, the characters used the same moral compass as the Dowdles did while making this film.
If for some reason you’d like to see this movie, it is playing in Century Downtown Plaza 7 and United Artist in Arden.