Director John Erick Dowdle releases himself from the tired found footage horror (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine, As Above, So Below) to deliver a tight straight up thriller.

wen Wilson and Lake Bell are a married couple starting anew in an unnamed South East Asian country with their two daughters after Wilson’s business goes under. There’s a little friction between the two as he’s uprooted the family to oversee an American water company’s integration into the region. But they’re not a day in country when an uprising deposes the country’s corrupt premier and rebels roam the streets slaughtering all foreign employees of the company. Wilson grabs his family and makes for the Vietnamese border…
o Escape drops you right in the mix with Dowdle coming up with edge-of-your-seat situations (Wilson tossing the girls across a rooftop to Bell) and takes his horror credentials to certain scenes (Bell barricading herself and her daughter in the hotel room as the rebels/monsters hack their neighbours and try to break in). It’s relentless and exciting and nerve-shredding. And Wilson is no action hero: at one point, hiding in an alleyway at night, Bell looks to him for the next step but, scared stiff, Wilson (playing against type and genre convention) doesn’t know what to do.
ith a story involving good Americans hunted on foreign soil by bad foreign types you’d be forgiven for thinking this is another post 9/11 xenophobic outing but No Escape surprises. Wilson is shown to be naïve as to his job – “I thought we here to help!” - and Pierce Brosnan, whose job it is to disrupt and bribe to lay the ground for incoming American companies, informs Wilson that the rebels are just out to protect their families. There’s an argument for the rebels being nothing more than monsters who rape and murder but what of the bad guy who recognises the disguised family in the middle of the crowd and doesn’t alert his comrades?
ut Dowdle does overcook it somewhat. As if unsure what a decent movie he has on his hands, the director tends to cut to slow motion in the middle of action sequences which not only dull the tension created but is showy and needles. At one point, when the rebels eye a fleeing Wilson across a rooftop, they unfurl the company banner with Wilson’s face on it as if to say, “You’re next.” And a wild Brosnan, in Matador form, conveniently turns up Deus Ex Machina to save the couple from certain death.
t’s a pummelling 103 minutes but an entertaining one.