No Escape: in what country does the movie take place?

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No Escape is a movie released in 2015, directed by John Erick Dowdle. Starring Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan, the film is about a violent coup d’état in an unnamed Asiatic country, where the protagonist just arrived with his family. The American family is chased as a symbol of the foreign countries trying to take advantage of the population through a special agreement with the government about the water supply. Since the protagonist is a new company employee that will gain from that agreement, the rebels are trying to kill him and his family. The spectators were curious to know if the film was based on a true story and in what country it takes place. Let’s discover it.

You can watch the official trailer for No Escape here on Youtube.

No Escape (2015): in what country does the movie take place?

First of all, the movie No Escape is not based on a true story: it was written by the director John Erick Dowdle, together with his brother Drew Dowdle, as a fictitious story that shows a violent coup in an Asiatic country.

The movie never mentions the country, and the movie production made sure that there were no explicit references in the scenes: the movie was filmed in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but the authors didn’t want the spectator to assume that the story was taking place there. As Drew Dowdle said in an interview: “We worked very closely with the Thai government and there were a lot of things they wanted us to shy away from … So although the film shows a coup breaking out in a Southeast Asian city, it never specified the country. We were very careful not to make it Thailand in the movie, so there was no Thai language used. None of the signage is Thai and most of the language that the native population is speaking is a combination of Laotian, hill-tribe languages and other languages.”

However, as the movie plot develops toward the ending, the American family tries to escape beyond the border. We discover that they were very close to the border with Vietnam, with a river marking the frontier between the two countries: that gives us a clear hint to identify the correct country because Vietnam borders only three countries on the land side: China, Laos, and Cambodia. And we can easily exclude China, a vast government where a coup wouldn’t be anywhere close to the border with Vietnam (the political relevance of the cities close to the Vietnamese border wouldn’t justify that).

Therefore, the two options are Laos and Cambodia, countries where coups have taken place in recent years. The movie was likely inspired by the 1997 Cambodian coup d’état, the last big coup that occurred lately in that geographical area. That would be confirmed by the fact that the natives in the movie speak Khmer, Cambodia’s official language.

In conclusion, the plot of No Escape doesn’t make any explicit reference to the country where the coup took place, but we can likely assume that the story takes place in Cambodia.

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