NO ESCAPE from a lousy script is the main culprit in this brutal 2015 thriller which puts an American family in the middle of a merciless coup in an unspecified SE Asian country. Since the script has Vietnam bordering it, we can take a guess that it must be Cambodia or Laos. It was filmed in Thailand (in Chiang Mai) and Cambodia, but wherever it’s meant to be isn’t somewhere you’d want to find yourself with rampaging crowds out for your blood. Many critics went for the heads of director John Erick Dowdle and his co-writer brother Drew for their zeal quotient in the mayhem department, while audiences who don’t know Asia from Amaretto bought enough tickets to clear the $16,200,000 price tag with a global gross of $54,419,000 (it ranked 84th in the geography-stumped ever-frightened US of Our Fault). *
Arriving in The Somewhere Country with his already upset wife and two moppet daughters, ‘Jack Dwyer’ (Owen Wilson) just wants to get going in his new job helping some corporate entity “fix” the 3rd World nation’s water problems. That will have wait, because jet lag isn’t over before the Prime Minister has been killed and mobs start slaughtering every hated foreigner they can find (and any locals in the way). Terrified, confused and unarmed, Jack, ‘Annie’ (Lake Bell) and kidlets ‘Lucy’ (Sterling Jerins) and ‘Beeze’ (Claire Geare) must run/hide/jump/climb/crawl/cry/comfort/cyclo/paddle and kill for the hills, or wherever the border with Vietnam lies. Help comes from mystery man ‘Hammond’ (Pierce Brosnan), an old hand at the region, and more than willing and able to shoot first and deal with the moral hangover later.
Some of the action is tense (the helicopter rooftop sequence is well done) and Brosnan handles his supporting savior part with brio. The kids are fine. Owen Wilson is an odd choice for this sort of, uh, escapism (had to use it at some point), and Lake Bell is like minute rice with no condiments. A child named ‘Beeze’? The further the plot carries them, the more outlandish it all becomes. 103 minutes to either bite your nails through or stare at them by. Watchable tosh is not in what you’d call good taste, but some of the critical overkill honks the p.c. caution horn too loudly with that “this says all foreigners are savages” tripe. Sure, and the scientific explanations of Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman made me accept that space lasers fired by rabbis targeted Malibu.
* Originally titled The Coup, that was changed after poor early test screenings, reportedly because a goodly portion of those trial audiences were confused by the word “coup”.