Film Spotlight + Mini Review of Action Thriller NO ESCAPE


When I first saw the trailer of NO ESCAPE, it definitely promises to be a highly intense action adventure. I have to admit though I was quite surprised by the casting of two actors known mostly for their comedic work: Owen Wilson and Lake Bell, but hey, we’ve got James Bond er Pierce Brosnan in it, whom I associate with this types of films. But it’s the unlikely casting that got me intrigued. The fact that the film is set in South East Asia also piqued my interest.

Well, later this afternoon I’ll have the opportunity to interview the filmmakers behind the film, John Erick Dowdle who directed the film based on the script he wrote with his brother Drew Dowdle.

Film Synopsis:
An intense international thriller, NO ESCAPE centers on an American businessman (Wilson) as he and his family settle into their new home in Southeast Asia. Suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a violent political uprising, they must frantically look for a safe escape as rebels mercilessly attack the city.

It’s always awesome to see Minnesota filmmakers making movies in Hollywood!

Per IMDb, John grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. After graduating St. Thomas Academy, an all-boys, military, Catholic high school, John moved to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa. There he would make the move from writing to film. Two years later, John moved to Manhattan to attend NYU’s film program. After graduating NYU, John moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking. John wrote and directed his first feature, Full Moon Rising (1996) just out of college. For his sophomore effort, The Dry Spell, John was joined by his brother Drew, who produced the film as John wrote, directed and edited. They now live in Los Angeles, working together as The Brothers Dowdle.


My mini review of NO ESCAPE

I must say that these types of thrillers are not usually something I’d see on the big screen as I have such feeble nerves. Given their horror background, there’s definitely nerve-wracking terror and sense of dread, as well as genuine jump scares in this edge-of-your-seat thriller.


I think the less you know about the plot the better, and there’s definitely more emotional resonance than what the trailer/poster have you believe. I’m very impressed by Owen Wilson‘s casting, he’s not an ‘action hero’ or macho tough guy, he’s just an ordinary family man who’s driven to extremes to save his family. His ‘everyman’ persona definitely make you sympathize with him right away, and Lake Bell as his wife is quite convincing here as well, in a role I haven’t seen her portray before. Even the two little girls played by Sterling Jerins and Claire Geare are both terrific here. Kudos to John E. Dowdle for coaxing such a convincing performance out of them, to display authentic sense of terror for such young actors must’ve been very challenging.

How we feel about this survivor-thriller hinges on whether we care or not about Wilson’s family and this film definitely delivers. Pierce Brosnan‘s quite memorable here in a key role. He’s not in the film much but when he’s on screen, he’s definitely memorable. There’s a conversation between his and Wilson’s character that offer an interesting perspective on what’s going on. The film is billed as a coup-gone-horribly-wrong (as the title was going to be The Coup), but there’s more than meets the eye.

The film is bloody but thankfully not gory. The filmmakers wisely choose to show the reaction after a violent act is committed, and what it means to them, rather the act itself. It makes it all the more effective and suspenseful. I think do horror/thriller fans would appreciate the filmmaking style of the Dowdles, and the convincing performances of the actors definitely immerse you in their predicament. Wilson and Bell certainly have dramatic chops on top of being talented comedians.

The scene on the roof is one of the craziest, most intense scenes I’ve ever seen. I think it’d be especially tense if you are a parent, as it’ll make you REALLY think about what you would do in such a dire situation.

The fact that the film was shot on location in Chiang Mai, Thailand certainly makes it look authentic. But the film is set in a fictitious SE Asia country as to not offend the Thai government. Given the recent bomb attack in that country though, it certainly adds to the nightmarish quality of the film. If you like the experience of having your nerve stretched to its snapping point, then this is a film for you.


NO ESCAPE opens in the US on 8/26 and in the UK on Sept 4.

Stay tuned for my interview post with the Dowdle Brothers!

What do you think of this film? Which film of the Dowdle Brothers have you seen?

23 thoughts on “Film Spotlight + Mini Review of Action Thriller NO ESCAPE

  1. Hey Flixy, I’ve seen commercials for this and thought the same as you… very hesitant to see this kind of film, I’m a whimp when it comes to thrillers like this just like you are. Owen Wilson? Who’d have thunk it? Very glad to hear he’s so good in it. Now I will see it for sure. And to have another pair of hometown brother-directors? How awesome! Have a great interview!

    1. I was breathless and clutching my seat (and Ivan’s arm, poor guy!) the whole time. But it was worth the experience, the film itself it very good and I think people who can handle thrillers would appreciate it, for sure. Yes, Owen Wilson is quite impressive in this role, definitely inspired casting that work well.

    1. Hi Alex! Yes I’ve lived in MN for 20+ yrs so I consider myself Minnesotan 😀

      Lake Bell is very good here! I love her in In A World and I know she’s talented but still I was surprised by her dramatic chops.

            1. Ahah, no I’m no good w/ Winter sport. I’m originally from Indonesia. Oooh lucky you that you live in London, one of my all time fave cities next to Paris.

                1. I actually haven’t been to many places in Asia, but I do love Bali, which is so different from other parts of my home country. It’s truly like paradise. I’ll be spending Christmas and New Year in NYC again this year, so excited! But hey, at least you are close to soooo many awesome European cities!

    1. Oh I totally understand. Nothing about the promo made me want to see it. But I’m glad I did because it turns out to be quite a compelling thriller. VERY intense though, but I think that’s what thriller fans seek out.

    1. Y’know, I think sometimes it’s our own prejudices that make us form a certain opinion on something before we even see it. I felt that way too about this film Ted, but it’s actually not just about Westerners vs Natives, there’s more nuances in the story that’s clearly lost in the marketing. I’m glad I gave it a shot and I think the performances are excellent here, and I wasn’t even a fan of Owen Wilson generally.

  2. Tom

    Nice little mini-review Ruth, I look forward to your interview with Dowdle! That’s great to hear about a companion piece to this movie, I thought it was pretty well done. It was wayyy more intense than I expected it to be. And Wilson and Brosnan turn in performances I have been waiting to experience from both of them in some time.

    1. Hello Tom! It was such a privilege to chat with them and they’re the nicest filmmakers you’d ever get the chance to meet! Glad to hear you like this too. Yes VERY intense, esp for me who’s not really used to watching thrillers like this on the big screen. But I’m glad I did and boy the performances are good, very impressed by Wilson especially, it’s a role I’ve never seen him tackle before.

  3. Seeing this tomorrow. I find it interesting that many critics are saying the same thing and discounting the movie as “offensive”, “xenophobic”, and “distasteful”. It’s almost as if a memo went out and told some of them what their reaction was going to be. That compels me to see it even more. Movies can be exploitative, offensive, and irresponsible. But ya know…so can critics sometimes. I’m excited to see this one.

    1. Hi Keith! I hope you would check this one out. As someone from SE Asia myself (as is my husband), neither one of us thought it was xenophobic. The filmmakers were inspired by a coup that happened when they were in Thailand and thought ‘hmmm what if this went horribly wrong?’ So it isn’t about natives vs Westerners movie, it was more about what if a family were to get trapped in a political turmoil. The rebel groups kill a bunch of their own people in this film, and there are natives who in turn help the family out, so there are nuances to the story that get lost in the marketing. There’s probably more of an anti big corporation message than anything else. Yeah, it seems that this film is an easy target for people who already have certain prejudices about the story, even before they go see it!

      1. I love hearing that Ruth! You input and perspective specifically helped me put off the certain “critical reviews”. I’m definitely going in with what you said in mind. Can’t wait.

        1. Hope you like it Keith. For sure the performances are great, esp impressed by Wilson & Bell who have dramatic chops on top of their comedic talents. It’s super intense though, I literally was exhausted after seeing it as I was so tense the whole time.

  4. Pingback: FlixChatter Interview with NO ESCAPE filmmakers John Erick & Drew Dowdle |

  5. Pingback: AUGUST 2015 Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month |

Join the conversation by leaving a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s