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  No Escape Tourist Trap
Year: 2015
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Stars: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Sterling Jerins, Claire Geare, Pierce Brosnan, Thanawut Ketsaro, Chatchawai Kamonsakpitak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Tanapol Chuksrida, Nophand Boonyai, Kanarpat Phintiang, Jon Goldney, Duang Maidork, Suphornnaphat Jenselius
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Seventeen hours ago, an American family were making the journey from America to South East Asia so the father, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), could take up a post as an engineer in a water manufacturing company there. He has recently lost his job back home and is hoping this fresh opportunity will offer him the stability and income he needs to sustain his family, though his wife Annie (Lake Bell) is yet to be completely convinced and his two daughters, Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare) are mostly confused by rather than anticipating this change. On the flight, there was a man sitting behind them called Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) who was friendly enough, but may know more than he lets on...

More about certain incidents happening in Thaibodia or Cambodailand or wherever this was supposed to be taking place, as the writer-director-producer team of the Dowdle Brothers were nothing if not vague about the actual location the Dwyers were headed for. For non-South East Asian viewers, it was enough that it was somewhere over that way and the possibility of coups and civil unrest seemed a lot more plausible, though potential audiences in Cambodia, where this was sort of set but not really (it was filmed in Thailand), were up in arms about the sort of depiction of their nation and thus the film was banned, with no excuses about it being fiction being acknowledged.

It was fiction, no matter the trappings that would seem to have been torn from somebody's headlines, and best approached as an adventure thriller rather than anything with valid points to make about the world we live in. That said, there were nods to the state of the planet and who pulls the strings, as Jack's new job has messed with the local economy and as a newcomer to this situation, he is one of those who are blamed, and seeing as how his phizog is plastered on a welcome banner at the hotel the Dwyers will be staying at, naturally he becomes a target once events get hairy. Indeed, simply being white is enough to have you singled out as someone to take down a peg or two.

Or be murdered, for that matter, as once the leader of the country is assassinated, as we see in the title sequence, anyone non-South East Asian is now fair game for being hunted down and executed as an enemy of the rebels, essentially tapping into the fear the Western audience would have for being in a foreign land and feeling vulnerable to the whims of the locals. Jack doesn't speak the language, he has no idea where to go outwith the hotel, and when he goes on a stroll to pick up an American newspaper he quickly finds himself in the middle of a riot between protestors and police. Suddenly, this whole moving abroad idea doesn't seem so great after all, and the rest of the film was an action flick with much concern for Mrs Dwyer and the kids and less concern for those who had lived there all their lives and were watching the place go to pot.

This more took the form of having the antagonists as a shapeless mass of angry faces from which a representative would occasionally emerge to focus the aggression, so they will make a threatening gesture to the fleeing Jack, or even worse try to rape Annie, all of which denotes them as a seething group of violence all aimed in the Westerners' direction. But there was someone looking out for them, and that was Pierce Brosnan, still not shaking off that James Bond persona as an undercover agent, possibly for Britain, it's another aspect that is unclear, who has a funny accent that makes him sound as if he's attempting a David Bowie impersonation. Hammond will lead the rescue attempt, rest assured, so that the zombies won't eat the Dwyers or whatever is supposed to be happening, but the fact remained that once we had the premise established, no amount of throwing little girls from roof to roof could mask the way there was not really anywhere No Escape could go, and if it patently wasn't going to kill the family then there were few surprises. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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