Release Date: August 26, 2015
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Writer: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle
Cast: Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson, Thanawut Kasro, Chatchawai Kamonsakpitak, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Tanapol Chuksrida, Nophand Boonyai, Kanarpat Phintiang, Jon Goldney, Duang Maidork, Suphornaphat Annie Jenselius, Barthelemy Son, Mikayla Friend, Stacy Chbosky
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes
Production Company: Bold Films, Brothers Dowdle Productions, Living Films, The Weinstein Company
Genre: Action, Thriller
So many thoughts and emotions run through the body when making life changing decisions. It’s an obvious amount of stress that we all take turns going through. That burden increases when your immediate family is affected, and is more devastating if that decision puts those loved ones in mortal danger. What is a man or anyone to do in this situation? Do you curl up and die, or give it all you’ve got? Owen Wilson was up to this task, and his filmography has a worthy amount of films to be proud of. Majority of his films delve into comedy, so it’s refreshing to see him take on a suspense thriller to show how talented he can be. This time he’s a man out of time, with fear in his heart, and one wrong move will lead to an inevitable death.
While you’ll most likely feel you’ve got your money’s worth, there is one lesson this film could’ve learned; “slow and steady wins the race.” Starting off this film appeared to be one of the most fascinating bits of entertainment I’ve seen all year. Initially there was a slight dose of mystery not revealing too, but just enough to keep you interested. It didn’t waste any time getting to the action and every second of it delivered. The characters are in the worst situation possible in a foreign land with death all around them. Carnage is everywhere literally falling from the skies. To say it’s violent is an understatement, but I praise the brutality which set the stakes. If you were to choose a villain it was an entire nation, and nothing was getting in their way. The country men here were angry to say the least and monsters to say the most. By just watching I was as nervous as if my own life were in jeopardy which is a testament on how gripping the scenario was.
It was the main characters that got you to this point. Jack and Annie Dwyer (Owen Wilson, Lake Bell) are mother and father on this journey with their two beautiful daughters. I can honestly say if they make it through this mayhem, there’s nothing that could ever tear them apart. Their relationship isn’t perfect as none are, which is a nod to how the real world is. Stories as such are character-driven and bring out the true “you” to the open. They handled it nearly as best as one could, making you root for them and their survival.
Director John Erick Dowdle(As Above So Below, Devil, Quarantine) was at the helm this time behind camera. His direction painted the picture of true terror and destruction. The camera movements during certain segments truly set the tone on an impending doom. It left me and the audience gasping for air, and I say this with no exaggeration. The theater and I were one as we witnessed the fight for survival. I should’ve known Dowdle would be able to pull this off. All of his films have a knack for “edge of your seat” suspense.
While I praise majority of the first half of the film I still can’t say that about the remainder. It’s where the story decided to go and the revelation of certain characters that left a bad taste in my mouth. Pierce Brosnan is a fine actor, and I love seeing him onscreen. I got used to his James Bond demeanor which is a characteristic he’s nearly mastered. So it was nice to see him step out of his comfort zone playing the towns drunk that’s obsessed with the ladies. For a while in the film he was heroic doing everything a man in his position should, given the circumstances. Though once his true character came to light, as well as his influence on the story, I could only despise him and was grateful for his outcome. On another note the main couples children started to become a pain. I understand they’re children and may not know what’s going on, but a time comes when a parent needs to start slapping faces yelling, “LOOK!!! IF YOU DON’T LISTEN TO ME WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!” No parent wants to go through this, but it’s a last resort that’s completely necessary. When this wasn’t done on multiple occasions the audience gasping air turned into deep sighs of frustration.
Overall the film didn’t end as strong as it started, but is still very entertaining. It also features elements that I’ve never encountered before on the big screen. If only the stakes didn’t die down towards the third act this may have qualified as a near masterpiece. Not from groundbreaking performances or a story that will reshape the world, but from giving movie goers exactly what they pay to see. It was a refreshing take on a different view of life. There’s a question of morality that has to be asked and I won’t ruin that here, but once you change the scope of the characters and story, it dilutes the film revealing that characters reap what they sow.