Movie review: No Way Out (1987)

Ah, the 1980s. No Way Out is a typical spy thriller from that era. In general, people are thin, enough so that I was reminded that anorexia was all the rage then. A nod to the obligatory 1980s car chase occurs two-thirds of the way through the movie. And one scene is filled with a row of full-length phone booths—a time well before cell phones. Casual sex—that of course leads to true love—abounds. HIV was just making itself widely known at the time.

No Way Out is based on the 1946 novel The Big Clock and is a remake of a 1948 film. The 1987 version stars Gene Hackman (miss him since he retired in the early 2000s!) and Kevin Costner. Some of the movie seemed cheesy, and the villain was an over-the-top bad guy (a bit overplayed).

The plot seems a bit far-fetched. Hackman plays the Secretary of Defense, who has a mistress. (So far not far-fetched.) Costner plays a commander in the Navy who happened to start a relationship with the same woman. (Getting a bit far-fetched.) Hackman, in a fit of rage, accidentally kills her. (Hmm. Maybe far-fetched.) Then his right-hand man, our over-the-top villain, suggests a cover-up: claim that the woman was killed by the long-touted Soviet mole in the Defense Department and run an investigation to find the Soviet mole/killer. (Really far-fetched now.)

Costner is kept in the dark about the cover-up but assigned to find the mole/killer. Costner does a good job of playing the boyfriend who finds out of her death but must act as though nothing is wrong—he does not know her. The movie turns into a race against time to blackmail the real killer—the Secretary of Defense—before all evidence points to Costner as the boyfriend and, according to the cover-up, the Soviet mole/killer.

It is easy to root for Costner and hope that the Secretary of Defense and his co-conspirator are found out. As the movie progresses, it looks like this will happen. Justice is only partially served by the creator of the cover-up conveniently committing suicide. He takes the fall, posthumously accused of being the Soviet mole and killer.

Only he isn’t.

The movie seems to end with Costner sitting by the grave of the woman he loved so briefly. But it doesn’t end there. There is one more twist. It seems that the long-repeated story of a Soviet mole was not entirely untrue.


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