Fairfield Citizen film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie, “No Escape.”

This taut thriller focuses on an American family accidentally caught in geopolitical crossfire, just after the prime minister of an unnamed Southeast Asian country is assassinated.

Exhausted after flying from Austin, Texas, to take a new corporate job, jet-lagged Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters (Sterling Jerins, Claire Grace) cannot find their assigned driver at the airport.

That’s where they’re befriended by Hammond (Pierce Brosnan), a garrulous British ex-pat who is also staying at the posh Imperial Lotus Hotel. Several hours after Hammond and his genial taxi-driver buddy deliver them to their rooms, armed rebels begin a violent rampage through the city, determined to kill all Americans.

Trying to survive amid a parent’s worst nightmare, Jack, Annie and the girls run to the hotel’s rooftop, where they’re trapped. Desperate, Jack convinces Annie to jump to an adjoining roof and, literally, throws their daughters across a gap for her to catch.

Then they’re forced to flee through the crowded streets, where machete-wielding protesters are battling government forces, searching in these strange surroundings for the U.S. Embassy.

Directed by John Erick Dowdle (“Quarantine,” “As Above/So Below”) from a script co-written with his brother/producer Drew, it’s a dramatic departure for Owen Wilson, best known for “Wedding Crashers,” Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” and Wes Anderson movies.

What makes this effective is the way the Dowdle brothers and cinematographer Leo Hinstin depict the gritty, visceral terror of ordinary people being lost, hunted and pursued in a strange land. The intense concept was allegedly inspired by a military coup that John witnessed in Thailand in 2006.

FYI: The film’s fictional nation borders Vietnam by a river and was initially meant to be Cambodia. It was actually shot in northern Thailand, just months before the country’s 12th coup d’etat in 2014.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “No Escape” is an action-packed, exciting 8, filled with escapist suspense.

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