No Way Out


‘…does a great job of maintaining pace and credibility…’

A great Saturday night flick from my teenage years, Roger Donaldson’s film hasn’t been much of a fixture since, and that’s a pity, because it’s a model of what a good, hard, modern thriller can be. Catching Kevin Costner on the way up certainly helped, and he looks great in his naval whites as Tom Farrell, who embarks on a torrid affair with the mistress of the US secretary of defence. Critics at the time found such narratives twists improbable; one wonders what they would have made of the brazen incompetence seen in Washington DC over the last few years.

The Cold War is the background; staff at the Pentagon fear a Soviet infiltrator named Yuri, although his face and identity are yet unknown. Secretary of Defence David Brice (Gene Hackman) is careless with his affections, and accidentally kills his mistress Susan Atwell (Sean Young) in a domestic assault. Brice’s henchman Scott Prichard (Minari’s Will Patton) formulates a clean-up operation, blaming the mysterious Yuri for her death, with the investigation led by Farrell (Costner). Farrell, however, was having an affair with Atwell, and has to hide his feelings of grief for his lover while attempting to identify a mystery man whom he knows will eventually turn out to be himself.

With a plot borrowed from The Big Clock, No Way Out has an electric conceit; Farrell is trapped in the Pentagon, trying to figure out a way to stop the blame for Atwell’s death landing on him; there’s a neat device of a Polaroid being upscaled by computer (very 1987) that shows how close the investigation is to nailing Farrell. Emotional depth is created and deserved by having Farrell disguise his grief, and there’s also some cool action as he dodges corrupt secret-service men in and around the DC transport system.

Working with Kubrick’s regular cinematographer John Alcott on his final project, Donaldson does a great job of maintaining pace and credibility, and the final twists were something of a mind-blower at the time. Of course, cold war thrillers were out of vogue by the 90’s, but guess what? They’re back now, and No Way Out’s complex plot and ambiguous heroics still make for a startling gumbo today. And the notion that sex and blackmail are at the centre of today’s political scandals has stood the test of time; if anything, the chess-playing ingenuities of 1987 seem admirable compared to the abject buffoonery of the last four years. Corruption, like nostalgia, isn’t what it used to be these days.


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  1. Was blown away by this in the day. An incredibly bold move by Costner to play a baddie just after playing a top class hero in The Untouchables. Scene on the battleship at the beginning top notch too and the computer beat-the-clock was a nice twist. Also it has Hackman and anything with Hackman – the god of actors and the king of the chuckle – was always a bonus.


    OK, I think it’s time for a certain someone to have a time-out! The talking cure hasn’t helped. The rage has only escalated. Bunny, we’re taking away the keys to your bloggy-wog. You can’t play nice with the other kids and for some reason you fly into a rage whenever someone mentions Robbie Collin’s name. We’ll get some guest posters in here and see if we can salvage things by getting more up to date, but right now things aren’t looking very good. Still, I want you to know that we’re all pulling for you to make a full recovery.

  3. Good fun. I may say that it wasn’t Maestro Costner’s best, but he was good enough. Great Maurice Jarre score too…

  4. Hello Dix! How are you doing on this fine Sunday afternoon? Life treating you well? Good.

    However, I’m afraid we must discuss this review of yours. Kevin Costner? No no no. The worst actor ever. Balanced out by Gene Hackman gives me hope, and this does sound interesting, but then – Kevin Costner. I just can’t.

    • I am fine, thanks for asking.

      As usual, you are quite mistaken in your farcical opinions.

      If your comment says more about you than the subject, then you are the subject.

      Many have seen the acting of Costner and lived. Maybe acting styles are a matter of taste, but his career over four decades does not scream ‘worst actor ever’ to me.

      The prosecution rests.

      • As usual, you are mistaken in *your* farcical opinion.

        The third paragraph makes no sense and has no relevance. What does it say about me? That I’m a genius? Thank you.

        Four decades of acting screams the farcical casting of Hollywood. Once you’re in, you can happily drift for as long as you like. Who’s the worst actor? You for your Saul Goodman impression?

        The defence rests.

        • I think it’s JOHN Goodman, and he was very good in Skull Island! How much to have have to teach people….? Sighs audibly.

            • I’ll bet you do! I’ll bet you’re in permanent deep water with your Tory fetish! Why don’t you stick your fascist newspaper where the son doesn’t shine and Radio 4 plays all day, eh Bunty!?

              • I’ll get them all on you with that attitude! What is my fascist newspaper? I know you have a distorted sense of reality, but not everyone works for the Telegraph – it’s not some government conspiracy…

                • Thousands of people visit this blog every week; only one pair of dafties witter on about how much they like the fascist stylings of the Torygraph, and that’s you and Cue-ball of Glitter Guelph. I try and keep this blog open to everyone of all persuasions, but your constant harping on about elitist upper-class twits stretches my patience to the limit.

                  • Thousands? Thousands? Really? Thousands? Ok…

                    I have never claimed to like the Torygraph, and Alex hasn’t either (I’m pretty sure). Ah, yes, open to all those thousands of other bloggers – there’s just so many that we could be scaring off with our radical opinions, I’m frightened to think. What patience do you have? You are patience-less! You lose your morsel of patience as soon as someone suggests Kevin Costner can’t act or Mr T is the real fool! I’m afraid the real man scaring off the *thousands* of prospective viewers is, well… Alex.

                    • I’d imagine that me bothering to humour a couple of mutants like you and Alex is depressing my readership, but I hate the idea of leaving anyone behind, even a couple of Torygraph evangelising twerps like you dafties. YOU are the one who comes in here waffling about some Torygraph critic or Radio 4. No one gives a monkeys, pal. You are reading a film blog that reaches the hearts and minds of several thousand film fans around the world and you can see no meaningless contribution to offer other than dribble on about some fascist film critic. Find some legit opinions of your own. Kevin Costner is an actor. Mr T pities you because you are a fool. These are facts, read ‘em and weep, Bunty!

                    • I mentioned Radio 4 ONCE! I do not listen to Radio 4, but I do maintain the opinion it’s of a better quality than Radio Scotland. Alex mentioned the Torygraph critic first – don’t pin that on me! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned him, so that point is redundant. These are my legitimate opinions! Kevin Costner may be an actor – doesn’t mean he can act. Donald Trump was president of the United States of America! Fair enough about Mr T, but my point still stands!

                    • Good to see you’re on the defensive, but you have little worth defending. Backtrack all you like, but you and your baldy pal are taking a beating on this comments section! You two harp on about some critic no-one has ever heard of, and then deny responsibility like the Iceberg that Sank the Titanic. The bottom line is that my website is a beloved destination for free thinkers worldwide, and you and Moonface are a couple of hambones who try and fail to carve a niche for yourself amongst the great and good in my illustrious comments section. I pity you both, fools!

                    • *wipes brow*

                      This is simply scandalous lies! Slander! Pure slander! What do you have against the Torygraph film critic? Did he steal your raisins at the screening of Tom and Jerry? “Niche”? Who do you think you are? Oscar Wilde? This is unacceptable. Reopen the investigation!

                    • I am Oscar Wilde. And I am Queen Victoria. And what’s more, Bunty, I’ll be your worst nightmare if you and Baldy don’t get a grip of your linguistic diarrhoea and post something worth commenting on. Lifetime bans coming up for both of you if you can’t behave. The world is watching.

                    • Jesus Christ, where’s Alex when you need him? He’s left me out to dry! I’m the cannon fodder!

                      Post something worth commenting on? My posts are very commentable. I’m sorry if you’re uncultured and don’t know anything about Another Round or The Godfather or Silence of the Lambs or Succession. That’s a sorry sight. Worst nightmare? What are you going to do? Black ball us from the blogging stratosphere? That’s against freedom of speech, which is something you advocate! I’m very very disappointed.

                      The defence rests.

                    • Right, I warned you both, but you didn’t listen. Lifetime bans for you both.

                      It wasn’t just a threat, it’s the consequences of your actions. From now on, you are banned from watching The Lifetime Channel. No more Judge Judy, Real Housewives, no Dance Mums. Sorry, but you did this to yourselves. This is why we can’t have nice things. Sighs audibly.

                    • I don’t get it. What did I do? How are you going to enforce this ban? Even I think this is a little unfair on Alex who wasn’t actually involved. This is as farcical as the Super League. I’m very happy with daytime reality TV and Alex’s Breakfast of Obscenities. That will do me nicely.

                    • Case dismissed! Save your complaints for someone who is interested. Thank U, next!

                    • I don’t know what to say. Well, it- it was fun while it lasted. I guess I’ll never see any of the WP4 gang again *sniff* but Otsy will be back one day, back I tell you! Goodbye, Dix.

                      *walks off into the sunset*

                    • Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Bunty! Have fun at the Caraboo Cup! Haha! Maybe a nice pims and lemonade with Robie Collins afterward! Fool!

                    • I aim to treat each and every client on my website with the same high degree of civility. May seem harsh to give Alex a Lifetime ban but it’ll be good for his character in the long run. Can’t have dafties waffling on about the Daily Torygraph on here. You do not mess with the WP4.

    • Is the correct answer. If only everyone was as sensible as you, but I’m stuck with dafties like Alex and OTS wittering in about the Torygraph. Sighs audibly.

  5. Startling gumbo?

    I went back and looked at my notes and found that I made the same mistake of misspelling Brice’s name as Bryce. Brice doesn’t sound right I guess.

    Posting on SubZero, Scorpion, et al later today?

    • No mistake here, your eyes must be playing tricks. I am a big fan of Cajun cooking from dining out in North Carolina. A good gumbo is startling.

      I review films when people can see them, dumbo, what’s the point otherwise? No release date set for your silly kung-fu movie in the UK…I guess rules don’t apply in the world of the amateur.

        • Haha, yup, and to be a pro, you have to go by the rules. Would have reviewed this if it was a new release in my territory, but will wait to get a copy from the PR. That’s how we do it. Explaining this to you is like showing a dog a card trick. Professional journalism must seem like a closed book to you.

          Who is May bad, is she a relative of yours? Or a character in Mortal Kombat 2?

          Startling at point of taste, don’t you love Cajun spices? They’re great, used in moderation, of course.

          • I make the rules. And then I break them.

            So you’re one of those “kept” journalists that are just an extension of studio PR departments? So disappointing. Though I can understand if Offa’s Digital Dyke has kept your “territory” in darkness. I guess I’ll check back in in 2022. Maybe Robbie Collin has something to say.

            • Look, Bunty, if you’d ever had anything published in your local freesheets beyond a police warning and a photo of your baldy napper and boggly eyes, you’d know that journalism is about fighting for the cause of independent thinking. Back to the coloring-in and small-ads competitions for you….I’m sure a future in the Young Conservative movement awaits you and your pal Colin.

                • What happened, did the Guelph gazette refuse to take your Lonely Heart ad? What are you mumping about, boy?

                    • Maybe see if you can snag a job doing a paper round because it’s as close as you’ll get to proper journalism, Bunty! Adios, LOSER!

                    • *sigh*

                      So much anger. So much hostility. So much projection.

                      Therapy and/or talking about your issues and insecurities can be a way forward. Perhaps getting in touch with a successful Scottish film reviewer, Robbie Collin say, would be a place to start. I’d recommend church as well, but we all know what a disaster that was the last time.


                    • Good luck with your Tory fetish. Never heard of this guy and never likely to. I have a successful blog that teaches thousands of people every week. You are a wibbling bald coot dribbling on about nothing. That is how it is.

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