Thursday, 10 September 2015

No Escape ... Asians are barbarians

NO Escape is about the lengths a father will go to protect his family.
  Mainly, it's about the supposed barbarity of brown-skinned Asians who run amok in the streets, even going to the extent of putting a pistol in a girl's hand and urging her to shoot her dad kneeling in front of her.
   It's hard to imagine being foreigners and landing right smack in the middle of a coup in an Asian country. They're jet-lagged, laden with heavy luggage and facing brown-skinned people speaking a bizarre language.

   And then they walk into a market and see vendors slaughtering animals and cutting meat, probably not the most hygienic thing for Westerners used to getting their stuff from supermarkets.
   But coming out to work in a poor Asian country will hit Westerners the hardest in their ego, as in the case of Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), an engineer who was let go from his previous job in Texas, but having to care of his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and two comely kids, accepts a job that requires him to go to the middle of nowhere and build a water sanitation project.
   The prime minister of this unnamed country has been assassinated for giving the contract of the project to Jack's company. This sets of a chain of events that leads to mobs baying for the blood of foreigners (read: whites).
   This will scare the bejesus out of any white, more so when the mob, armed with guns and machetes, goes on a rampage in this unnamed town (the film was made in northern Thailand), shoots a white man in the head in front of the hotel in which Jack and his family are staying, and then proceed to trash the premises.
  Jack swings into action. He finds his family, but his eldest daughter, who can't be more than 8, has wandered off on her own to the hotel pool. I find this hard to believe, as no girl, in a foreign country for the first time, would have even stepped out of the hotel room without adult supervision. She even swims in the deep end of the pool without a guard present.
   The family gets to the rooftop, which is filled with hotel staff and white foreigners. The mob uses  an army helicopter to strafe the rooftop, killing many whites, but the chopper stupidly gets entangled in wires from a rooftop sign.
   Now comes the film's moment of foolishness. With no way out and with the mob pouring onto the rooftop, Jack decides to jump onto the rooftop of an adjacent building.
   His act of heroism, if you can call it that, is to throw (yes, throw) his two daughters across to the other rooftop. You're watching this incredulous moment on the screen, but you're also wishing that the eldest daughter would just stop her whining and get on with it.
The girl-throwing scene.
   This scene reminded me of the dwarf-throwing scene in The Wolf Of Wall Street.
   As night falls, the family becomes more desperate, with the mob easily recognising the blond Jack as one of the employees of the colonialist water company. Meanwhile, Jack is pestered by a daughter to recount how the eldest daughter was born.
   The burnt-down American embassy was hard to swallow, and hard to believe, but I remembered that a mob had burnt down the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, three years ago today (Sept 11).
   My heart pounded faster when the fleeing family, now on a motorcycle, came face to face with a mob. The four are wearing hats and covering their faces with hankies, but the audience will wonder if the murderous men will discover their deception and slaughter them like the animals Jack saw at the market.
   The family obviously needs help, which comes conveniently in the form of British spy Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) and a local sidekick. Hammond can even kill someone from great distance with a pistol. Wow. That's just what James Bond could have done.
Brosnan (left) and Wilson are stuck in a racist
film with No Escape.
   Co-writer and director John Erick Dowdle's racism boils to the surface with  his depiction of an attempted rape on Annie and, in the film's most disconcerting moment, Jack's eldest daughter, who has been nothing but annoying, is pushed to shoot her dad in the night rain.
   There's a certain thrill in watching Jack and his entourage navigate a chaotic environment, and viewers can empathise with his ordinary-man character who's out of his depth ("next 10 steps" is his mantra).
   However, the racist depiction of Indochinese people shows that Westerners see themselves as a civilised breed up against marauding and murderous people.

2 out of 5 stars

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