Sorry folks, but No Escape really isn’t xenophobic or racist.
Owen Wilson hasn’t made a serious movie in years and it’s a shame his solid performance has been overshadowed by some very heavy controversy revolving around No Escape and just exactly what kind of message it’s trying to convey. There’s been serious talk from all different types of sources that the movie (quick plot summary: Owen Wilson and his family move to an unnamed Southeastern Asian country only to find themselves running for their lives in the midst of a violent revolution) is xenophobic and/or racist.
At first I thought it was no big deal, but I’m losing my mind here because everywhere I turn, I’m reading something ridiculous about the film that makes my blood boil. So I’m here to set things straight and tell you the reality of the situation.
The idea of this type of movie being xenophobic or racist is the same asinine criticism that was getting heaped on the shoulders of Hustle & Flow and it’s not even about being overly political correct. It’s about failing to realize a movie’s context is often determined by the expected audience. In this case, we have Hollywood making an American movie for a predominantly American audience.
If you want something neutral or completely absent a position, launch yourself into space because you’re not getting that kind of objectivity in the world of pop culture. And, by the way, No Escape is thrilling and unrelenting and the only thing that would have made it better is if Owen Wilson and his family didn’t keep getting saved by typical movie synchronicity and heroics.
Finally let’s not forget Pierce Brosnan’s character does offer a little context when he says the people are just trying to protect their own families and livelihood through actions that might seem brutal or savage from Owen Wilson & Company’s perspective – which is incidentally our perspective as well. Is it enough? Maybe not, but I’m laughing at the people who want more, like this is supposed to suddenly turn into a documentary or a really pompous episode of The Newsroom.
But perhaps the most important thing people are forgetting is that cinema explores scenarios and just like Hustle & Flow explores the fictional account of a fictional Memphis rapper and just like Collateral explores a fictional taxi driver and assassin in a fictional version of LA, so does No Escape.
The whole point is to show what it shows and I don’t get how people don’t understand that by now.
If you really want to ask a provocative question, ask whether what you’re seeing is at least viable realistically. Can you imagine a scenario where a family moves to another country and suddenly finds themselves in the middle of a violent uprising? Because I can. It probably happens all the time, historically speaking.
End of rant. For now.