John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

No Escape Poster

No Escape

Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Cast: Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan, Lake Bell

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: August 26th, 2015

This past weekend, capsule Zac Efron, remedy Owen Wilson and a prayerful cast duked it out at the box office. Despite the odds, the prayerful cast beat the other two new theatrical releases and opened at number 2 at the box office behind only Straight Outta Compton.

Straight Outta Compton won its third weekend in a row with an estimated weekend gross of 13 million dollars.

Here are the estimated weekend grosses of the top five films (according to

1. Straight Outta Compton — $13.2 million
2. War Room — $11.0 million
3. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation — $8.3 million
4. No Escape — $8.2 million
5. Sinister 2 — $4.6 million

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the big winners at the box office and a few of the big losers.

Loser:  We are your Friends

Zac Efron’s new drama We are your Friends crashed at the box office this weekend opening outside of the top ten. In fact, the feature about a hustling D.J. and his friends actually had one of the worst opening weekends of all time for a major release. With an opening weekend of 1.8 million, it looks this WB feature didn’t have the friends it thought it did.

Winner: War Room

Movies like War Room are considered surprise hits because entertainment reporters sometimes underestimate the audience for faith-based films. Despite lacking star power (and critical support), the film opened at number 2 at the box office, beating Efron’s latest and the newest entry from Owen Wilson.

 Loser: Sinister 2

In its second weekend, Sinister 2 took a big hit at the box office dropping off by more than 55%. Considering its budget, the film is still profitable but with critics and with viewers, the film has been a major letdown in the series.

Winner: Straight Outta Compton

August is usually a slow month for movies but not for Compton, which has now grossed over one hundred million dollars on– according to– a budget of twenty-eight million dollars. With numbers like these, audiences can expect more musical biopics to come.
There is something painfully realistic about the new Owen Wilson thriller No Escape. The drama features an American family living abroad who are caught in the middle of a riot that threatens their lives. Despite the film’s fictional story, check
the harrowing tale—which features an attack of an American embassy overseas— seems all too familiar to those who watched coverage of the 2012 embassy attack in Benghazi and the embassy attacks before then.

The main characters may be superficial in this action film but director John Erick Dowdle more than makes up for that by capturing the frantic pace of the situation in a real and compelling way.

John Erick Dowdle and his brother Drew Dowdle co-wrote the script, pill
which focuses on the plight of a young couple (played by Owen Wilson and Lake Bell) and their two daughters.

Wilson stars as Jack Dwyer, an unsuccessful businessman who has accepted a new job in Asia for a company that plans to bring clean drinking water to the locals. His character, while never well-developed, serves as a solid focal point of this story. He’s simply a father overwhelmed by his personal failings who wants to start over for his family’s sake. Wilson, better known for his comedic work, imbues him with a relatability that comes in handy when the residents of their new home turn against them.

While Dwyer is on a walk one morning to purchase the newspaper, he sees two feuding forces approaching him. On one side of him is a large military force while on the other side, there’s an angry crowd of rioters and revolutionaries. Within minutes of picking up the paper, Dwyer finds himself in the midst of a city riot where Americans are being targeted.

The director then follows Wilson’s journey as he attempts to rescue his family. Although the shaky camerawork is sometimes a bit jarring, it’s never too distracting to take away from the situation itself. Throughout the feature’s 103 minute runtime, the filmmaker builds up an overpowering level of suspense as he attempts to bring the viewers into this extreme but unfortunately realistic scenario.

Despite some reservations, Wilson is more than up to the task of serving as a hero here. His character lacks the bravado of John McClane but that’s what makes it more compelling. Dwyer is an unlikely hero who is simply trying to survive. As Hammond, a British associate that Dwyer meets at a bar, Pierce Brosnan is far more up to the task of being an action hero. He’s the far more obvious pick for the lead role but by casting Wilson, the filmmakers are showing viewers that this character isn’t meant to be a born action hero. He’s just thrust into that role.

It’s true that No Escape lacks the intrigue of summer blockbusters like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation or the visuals of Jurassic World but it more than makes up for it in its simple premise. It’s hard not to feel for the victimized family who are being chased here because of their American heritage. The script eventually offers a silly conspiracy theory to explain the riots but the less said about that reasoning, the better.

The film works best when it’s simply an action thriller about a family being chased by rioters overseas and for most of its running time, that’s exactly what it is.

Review by: John Hanlon