No Escape (Blu-ray Review)

The movie title No Escape (not the 1994 one) sounds so familiar, doesn’t it?  At least to me it does.  It sounds like it could easily be a name of a KISS song from the 1980s or something when they were struggling to find their sound during the Killers era, but I digress.  Perhaps what shocked me even more was seeing Owen Wilson on the movie poster when I first received the press invite to cover this one months ago.  I instantly thought why have I never heard of this film and of course what is funny man Owen Wilson doing in a film like this.  I almost dismissed this one had it not been for the trailer.  After viewing it I thought wow if it’s a great story and Owen Wilson can really pull this one off, it could be quite good me thinks.  After all, I thought his brother Luke did a great job in the serious role he portrayed in 2007’s Vacancy, one of my earliest Blu-ray titles in my collection (a little Brian White trivia for ya).  So let’s do this.  Let’s talk some No Escape now on Blu-ray.

No Escape


Perhaps what sold me the most on this feature was the favorable positive reviews from my peers in the review world.  Fellow Cleveland reviewer, Craig Kandiko, called No Escape “intense.”  That’s what truly sucked me in.  If this guy was this excited over this film, I knew he was probably just having a bad day when he favorably reviewed Terminator: Genesis (just giving ya a hard time).  And there was the other favorable review by Fred Topel over at The Nerd Report calling No Escape “desperately awesome.”  Ladies and gentlemen, both of these men are so right about this film.  It blows my mind too as for some reason I really only learned of this vacation thriller mere weeks before it opened and now it’s on my Top Ten of the year.  Say what?!

No Escape is directed by John Erick Dowdle, who also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Drew Dowdle.  The film stars major players Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan, and tells the story of a U.S. businessman trapped with his family in the middle of a war zone in Southeast Asia.  You may be asking yourself why are they in Southeast Asia.   That’s a fair question.  It’s their new overseas home because of Jack Dwyer’s (Wilson) job.  It’s always over a job, isn’t it?  Why can’t we all just be born rich and we wouldn’t have these problems?  I digress.  Anyway, on the run, the “perfect” family frantically looks for a safe place to hide, but seemingly there is no place to escape.  They are smack dab in the middle of a coup and Jack and his family are the main targets.  They are the main entree so to speak, caught in the middle of this country’s crisis, literally like Owen’s character in this clip below.

I won’t tell you exactly why Owen is stuck in the middle of things, but you’ll quickly learn that all he really wanted was a newspaper.  Is that too much to ask for?  However, it’s all really because of his damn job and another little inciting incident that transpires in the very beginning too when the Dwyer family is mid air on their way to this merry land.  So where does Pierce Bronsnan’s character factor into all of this?  Aren’t you inquisitive today?  Haha.

Rest assured Pierce Brosnan is in this film for a good reason.  It may not be immediately spelled out, but having seen enough films in this kind of genre it doesn’t take having a college degree to quickly put two-and-two together to figure out how he’ll eventually fit into the mix.  However, here’s the thing.  Despite the cliche way Brosnan’s character does fit in, I liked him a lot.  He added some much needed humor into the story and believe me, I know how ironic that sounds given that Wedding Crashers‘ Owen Wilson is the main character here.  And that’s the delicious, finger licking’ good frosting on the cake here.  This is a genre bending, breakout role for Wilson and like his brother did in Vacancy, Owen owns it here.  Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t The Last Action Hero.  Owen Wilson is now a bonafide one, but let’s take a quick look before we move on at the mad killing skills of Pierce’s character.

So I know a lot of people are comparing this one to the overseas action thriller Taken, but I just don’t get it.  Sure it has an aging star playing a somewhat different role, kicking a$$ and taking orders, but it’s so much more.  Unlike the silliness of TakenNo Escape is life and death throughout, never letting up, and remaining to stay plausible whenever allowed.  Simply put it’s white-knuckle tension at its best.  The survival action throughout in No Escape is no-holds-barred.  It’s the vacation thriller that’s anti-vacation.  One watch of this, and you’ll never want to leave the U.S. again.  This will make you see how much we take our freedom, security and rights for granted each and every day.  If this doesn’t make you proud to be an America, I don’t know what wakeup call you’ll need then.

What truly further separates No Escape from being another bland Taken film though is its heart.  It’s the plight of an entire family (complete with strong performances throughout here), albeit not a perfect one, but one that will do anything to stay alive.  It’s truly a remarkable story of survival, hope and accomplishing the impossible against all odds. In other words, it’s the adrenalized tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat and it provides logical reasons as to why the onscreen characters do what they must in order to SURVIVE, hence the decisions they ultimately make.  That’s the key here.  It’s paramount actually.  No Escape‘s tale of SURVIVAL is in its rawest, most primal form throughout.  Anything goes here and while it’s not a perfect film, it’s a heart pounding, vacation thriller (that’s putting it mildly) that kept this reviewer’s eyes glued to the screen, not wanting to blink, afraid to miss something in all the non-stop action.  Although Owen Wilson’s character makes some pretty bold Jack Bauer decisions at times (like with the life preserver here), he’s not the hero we need, he’s the hero we deserve in dire times like this where family matters most.  And hey, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger right?

So that’s it!  I’m never going to Asia.  Thank you Weinstein and No Escape for saving me thousands in airfare costs.  I’ll just stay complacent and happy with my rice cooker at home.  So you need to see this!  Don’t forget stints for your eyes too.  If you blink in this one, you could miss a lot.  It’s I-N-T-E-N-S-E and Marco Beltrami’s driving score doesn’t hurt things either.

Last but not least, I think this one kind of sets the tone appropriately for the kind of nail-biter that’s in store for you on this incredible journey of family, strength and survival.  Throw mama from the roof…


  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio:  1.85:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity and detail is on fine display here from facial stubble, skin blemishes, wrinkles, scars to the clarity of the God Bless Austin, TX verbiage on Owen’s with t-shirt.  During all the warfare and smoke everywhere things aren’t always the clearest, but you have to be forgiving because the non-stop, heart pounding, visceral action on screen negates any nitpicking you can possibly complain about.
  • Depth: The characters all pop with the utmost of three-dimensional qualities against the deep, expansive backdrops and environments.  When viewed from afar (aka wide shots) the land and cityscapes are large and vast.  The city streets and market scenes are pretty spectacular looking too, even the rooftops.  Depth takes on new meaning upon the rooftops that our family must traverse over.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky throughout the presentation such as the intro scene where an assassination attempt takes place at night.  The Blu-ray makes you almost feel the darkness and peril in the air, which is important because some very pivotal and key scenes transpire at night.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors are vibrant and strong.  The reds really pop against the white tones as well as the neons, flares and ambient lighting.  Everything seems in check and accurately reproduced.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are natural and pleasing on the eyes.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There’s nothing at all to complain about here so let’s move on.

No Escape


  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTSHD-MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: This one is a hard one to sit through comfortably with all the destruction, terror and peril every which direction you look.  From the ear ringing moments (there are plenty of these sonic ones believe me) to the minute whispers, this one is what wet dreams are made of on the Blu-ray format.  My dog could not hang while watching this one.  It was too intense for her.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Once the second act kicks in the LFE channel never rests.  The LFE is busy and monstrously thumping from the explosions, rampant gunfire, chaos, warfare, marching of pirates and police militia, including tank fire and whatnot.  This one has it all!
  • Surround Sound Presentation: From the beep beep of car horns to explosions and chaos all around you, like the case with the LFE channel, when the second act kicks in, the place goes crazy.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Spoken words are all clear and understandable.

No Escape


The thriller No Escape is rated R for strong violence throughout, and for language and has a running time of 103 minutes.  Blu-ray  special features include Feature Commentary with Writer/Director John Erick Dowdle and Writer/Producer Drew Dowdle, Deleted Scenes and Behind-the-Scenes (both of these extras are listed in more detail down below).  In other words, there’s not much here, but there is an audio commentary!  In addition to these watchable items, there’s also an included DVD disc, which houses the film in Standard Definition, and a redeemable code for the Digital HD file of the movie.

  • Behind The Scenes (HD, 13:41) – There’s a Play All option that contains the following segments: “Owen Wilson,” “Lake Bell,” “Pierce Bronsan” and “The Dowdle Brothers.”  It’s basically about all the unsafe choices in casting this, but the risk that this is what the movie is all about.  Look at what Owen accomplished in this.  He gets a standing ovation from me.  Also, this is a quick in-depth discussion of the challenge of this movie from the stunts to the peril of the story.  It all poses that question of not what Jesus would do, but what would you do?  It was cool to hear how the filmmakers wanted to see Pierce Bronsan with his Matador like qualities in this one.  They also go on to say this is a family drama disguised as an action film.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:09) – There’s a Play All option as well as the availability of Commentary with Writer/Director John Erick Dowdle for the following two deleted scenes: “Hotel Morning” and “Hammond’s Breakdown.”

No Escape


So here’s the deal folks.  I’m grading this one on a curve.  After three viewings now I have no other words to y’all other than just buy this one.  Don’t even think about it.  The visceral action and heart pounding tension will no doubt raise your blood pressure, but I can’t think of a better way to do that than with No Escape on the Blu-ray format.  The filmmakers may say this is a family drama disguised as an action movie, but make no mistake about it…this is a tale of SURVIVAL no matter how gritty or blurry the lines become.  What would you do?  Owen and family definitely show us!  I can’t say enough good things about this one so just buckle up and enjoy the thrill ride once the second act of no return happens.


Survive No Escape

on Blu-ray

November 24th!





Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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