Owen Wilson in 'No Escape'

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What we need is a thriller film festival with a Palme d’Eau for top prize. My palms were wet with sweat during an early scene of No Escape. (And yes, readers and pedants, I know: strictly, Gallically, that should be Paume d’Eau.) It’s the moment when American contractor Owen Wilson tries to save his two little daughters by throwing them from one rooftop to another, across a perilous gap, as his family flees coup-staging rebels, slaying all in a nameless Asian city. (The film was shot in Thailand but matches specs, including a Vietnam border, with Cambodia.)

Air-drying extremities, I kept company with Wilson, kids and wife Lake Bell, plus Pierce Brosnan as the mystery Brit befriending them, while they moved on to further dangers. Brosnan gets the only brief, perfunctory political speech, near the close of a pulse-racing story which, pace its title is little but escapism. Who are the rebels? What’s their beef? Whom are they overthrowing? Never mind all that. Just feel the cinegenic gusts of panic, skilled story ploys and give-it-everything main performances.

Wilson and Bell go beyond hokum’s call in lending vivid emotions to their mum and dad. The children are as good. And Brosnan does cockney geezerism — glottal stops and sartorial slop, plus stubble-bearded mateyness — as if the words “Bond, James Bond” had never passed his lips.

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