A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that No Escape is a thriller about an American family that comes under fire in an unnamed foreign country. Some viewers might be interested in it as a "turn off your brain" roller coaster ride, but its blatant xenophobia makes it difficult to recommend. Plus, there's a lot of strong violence, including a scene of a woman being beaten and nearly raped. Children are in peril, and dozens of people are shot and killed, with blood spurts, bloody wounds, and pools of blood, plus beatings and explosions. Language is infrequent but includes more than one use of "f--k" and "s--t." There's a mention of a strip joint and a scene that takes place in what appears to be a brothel. Characters smoke and drink in a social setting, with some playful drunkenness, and an opium den is briefly shown.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In NO ESCAPE, struggling businessman Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) takes his family to a new country -- an unnamed Asian country, possibly Thailand -- and a new job. Things don't go well from the start: Their ride to the hotel doesn't show up, and nothing in their room seems to be working. The next day, Jack goes out for a paper and finds himself in the middle of what seems to be a revolution, with citizens attacking figures in riot gear. And it becomes apparent that Americans are also being targeted. Jack takes his wife (Lake Bell) and daughters (Claire Geare and Sterling Jerins) on a dangerous path to the American embassy. Just as hope runs out, a mysterious European (Pierce Brosnan) and a local driver (Sahajak Boonthanakit) intervene.
Is it any good?
It's horrifying to consider just how this movie operates, generating so-called thrills based on a blind, empty-headed fear of foreigners. Adding dumb plot twists and bad shaky-cam makes for an insultingly poor movie. Coming from the otherwise decent horror director John Erick Dowdle, No Escape is surprising in its blatant xenophobia -- some might go far as to say racism -- with evil-looking, unidentified Asians, none of whom has any honor or dignity, shooting at Americans and attempting to beat up and rape white women.
It doesn't help that the characters are stuck with bad storytelling, including unlikely logic, forced incidents, and flat-out cruelty, as when Jack decides to throw his daughters off a roof, or when he beats a potential informant to death. The unstable cinematography, meant to simulate chaos with lots of shaking, makes things worse. Brosnan's character actually has a purpose, but it's too little and too late to save this abhorrent movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about No Escape's violence. How did it make you feel? How was the impact affected by the fact that kid characters were there/involved?
What does "xenophobia" mean? Does this movie subscribe to that way of thinking?
Why do you think the country in which the movie takes place isn't named? How are its people depicted?
How does the movie depict smoking and drinking? What's the tone of those scenes? Are there consequences?
- In theaters: August 26, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2015
- Cast: Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan, Lake Bell
- Director: John Erick Dowdle
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence including a sexual assault, and for language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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