‘No Escape’ Reviews: Critics Call Owen Wilson’s Actioner ‘Racist,’ ‘Cliche-Ridden,’ ‘Monotonous’

“A bloody revolution in Asia only matters insofar as some white people might get killed,” TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde says

“No Escape,” Owen Wilson‘s new action thriller, received harsh reviews from critics leading up to its release on Wednesday, which raked in $1.8 million its opening night. So even though moviegoers flocked to the Wednesday night showings of the action thriller, critics seemed less impressed by it, calling it a “white guilt story” that is “borderline racist” with “bad storytelling.”

Moreover, it scored a 42 percent Rotten Tomato score, but a not-too-shabby CinemaScore of B+. Comparably, Wilson’s recent comedies better. 2014’s “Night at the Museum: Secret of The Tomb” opened with $5.7 million, and received a Rotten Tomato score of 50 percent, with a CinemaScore of B+. Yet, although “The Internship” grossed $6.5 million its opening night, it received a miserable score of 34 percent.

The film stars Wilson, Pierce Brosnan and Lake Bell, and is written and directed by John Erick Dowdle, with Drew Dowdle writing as well.

TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde in his review titled, “Owen Wilson Saves His Family in This Slick, Racist Thriller,” said that “it’s fair to say that this new movie combines genuine filmmaking skill and effective action editing with a queasily racist subtext, one in which a bloody revolution in Asia only matters insofar as some white people might get killed.”

And most other critics agree that this film is racist, to the point where it doesn’t mention the country in which the film is set, making it “surround our American protagonists with a bloodthirsty, faceless Yellow Peril.”

Here are nine other examples of the harshest reviews for “No Escape”:

Jake Cole from Slant Magazine:

“The only way that this film could be any more racist is if the Dwyer family holed up with Lillian Gish and waited for the Klan to save them.”

Laura Clifford from Reeling Reviews:

“‘No Escape’ is a visceral, stomach knotting actioner and for that it deserves some credit, but it’s disappointing when one considers how much better it could have been had the Dowdles had any sense of nuance.”

Stephanie Merry from The Washington Post:

“As the movie wears on, however, the gore is increasingly over-the-top, as each of the family’s encounters with bad guys becomes more and more sickening. Meanwhile, every Asian character is either a ruthless murderer or anonymous collateral damage. A lot of locals have to die, the film suggests, in order for one white family to survive.”

Peter Sobczynski from Roger Ebert:

“With its clunky filmmaking, overt sadism (with the expected shootings, slashings and burnings augmented by an attempted rape and a little girl being forced at gunpoint to shoot her own father) and borderline xenophobia, one might assume that ‘No Escape’ was the latest film from Eli Roth.”

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone:

That’s the setup for the shamelessly risible and racist No Escape, the screwiest mix of suspense and stereotypes since Michael Bay was a pup. […] This movie really moves. But a fleet of tanks couldn’t help the brothers Dowdle push past the plot holes in this rancid mess.”

Kevin P. Sullivan from Entertainment Weekly:

“Even ignoring the racism–which is pretty much impossible–No Escape is a cliché-ridden, artless relic.”

Richard Roeper from Chicago Sun Times:

“There’s no denying director/co-writer John Erick Dowdle‘s skill set for creating almost unbearably tense and quite twisted suspense pieces in which you’ll find yourself laughing at the sheer unapologetic insanity of it all.”

Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal:

“I won’t make a case for “No Escape” being a good film; the first half is pretty good and the second half ranges from pretty bad to truly awful. Nor will I deny having enjoyed quite a bit of it as a zombie film, never mind that it’s supposed to be an international thriller with contemporary political significance.”

Nick Schager from The Playlist:

“A preposterous, monotonous action saga primarily notable for boasting a miscast lead and advancing a less-than-tolerant geopolitical fantasy. To say John Erick Dowdle‘s film takes a negative view of its Southeast Asian setting would be an understatement, to the point that it doesn’t even explicitly denote where its action is taking place.”