(director/writer: John Erick Dowdle; screenwriter: Drew Dowdle; cinematographer: Leo Hinstin; editor: Elliot Greenberg; music: Marco Beltrami/Buck Sanders; cast:Owen Wilson (Jack Dwyer), Lake Bell (Annie Dwyer), Sterling Jerins (Lucy), Claire Geare (Beeze), Pierce Brosnan (Hammond), Sahajak Boonthanakit (Kenny Rogers); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Drew Dowdle/Michel Litvak/David Lancaster; The Weinstein Company; 2015)
“A risible, trite and predictable exploitation action survival pic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A risible, trite and predictable exploitation action survival pic. Director John Erick Dowdle(“As Above, So Below”/”Devil”/”The Poughkeepsie Tapes“) pens the dreadful script with his brother Drew. Using hand-held cameras, the technical parts are reasonably well-done. The problem is that there’s no escape from its cliched story and its politics seems only like an afterthought.
Unemployed mild-mannered Texas engineer/businessman Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) has a new job in an unnamed ‘third world’ Southeast Asian country (it looks as if it could be Cambodia but it was filmed in Thailand) with an American water firm. He relocates with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and adolescent daughters Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and the youngster Beeze (Claire Geare). They are unaware that the local hotheads have begun a bloody coup because his firm grabbed in an imperialist manner the country’s water rights from the country’s dictator. Trapped in their tourist luxury hotel, the clueless Americans, confused and frightened, must stave off the blood-thirsty anti-American rebels surging through the streets and into their hotel. The only lucky thing is the adventurer Brit agent Hammond (Pierce Brosnan), on holiday, shows up smoking cheroots and with great knowledge of the area, uses 007 killing skills to selflessly help the Dwyers cross-over the border to safety in Viet Nam (which might be an ironical comment from the brothers about that other real Asian war).
If you’re willing to suspend disbelief and sympathize with the nice family in their plight, you might disregard all its absurdities and take it in as a watchable mainstream escapist action pic. I couldn’t. I found it a tiresome watch and felt good only when I escaped from the theater.
REVIEWED ON 8/29/2015 GRADE: C+