Film review: No Escape starring Owen Wilson 'appalling' and 'takes anti-Asian racism to an extreme'
Most of the Asians are depicted as ruthless and cruel, and the rest are characterless plot appendages. No Escape harks back to a time when Asians were commonly depicted as the evil 'yellow peril'
This appalling escape movie takes racism towards Asians to an extreme not seen for many years in mainstream films.
The story focuses on an American family caught up in an anti-foreigner uprising in an unnamed Asian location (actually northern Thailand), and have to escape an angry mob who are brutally executing American tourists.
Most of the Asians are depicted as ruthless and cruel, and the rest are characterless plot appendages. No Escape harks back to the worst excesses of the 1930s and 1940s, when Asians were commonly depicted as the evil “yellow peril” in American films.
The story starts with Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) taking his family to an unnamed Asian country to start a new job managing a waterworks. Almost immediately, an anti-foreigner uprising takes place, and tourists are hunted down by machine-gun wielding thugs. Jack and his wife Annie (Lake Bell) must get their two children out of the country, with the help of British agent Hammond (a hammy Pierce Brosnan).
The film is a disaster on many counts. There’s no reason for the uprising, except for a vague speech which notes that the locals are unhappy about Americans running the waterworks.
The way that the family negotiate the hostile terrain, and gradually wipe out their assailants in the process, is ridiculous, and a scene in which the Americans seek political asylum across the border in Vietnam – which, obviously, does not actually border Thailand – is as cretinous as it is ironic.
But the most bewildering aspect is that, although it’s a US production, most of the cast and crew are Thai. Why would Thais choose to depict their own in such a racist way?
No Escape opens on September 3