No Way Out (1987) 4.43/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 78.5
Genre: Thriller
Duration: 114 mins
Director: Roger Donadlson
Stars: Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Sean Young

From the opening credits as Maurice Jarre’s tense score accompanies an aerial shot of Washington DC, this film exudes intrigue. Roger Donaldson’s film is a smartly written taut political thriller steeped in that classy 80′s style where character and soft lighting were the order of the day. It stars Kevin Costner as a naval officer assigned to the Pentagon who together with Sean Young (his girlfriend) and Gene Hackman (his boss and Secretary for Defence) becomes involved in a dangerous love triangle that ends up in murder, a cover-up, and a manhunt through the Pentagon.

Costner is at the height of his powers and he adds a sharp intensity to the film through a mixture of his good old boy charm and his nuanced depiction of an ambitious career officer. Young gives a memorable performance as the feisty love interest while Hackman just about steals every scene he features in. Most memorable of all, however, is Will Patton as Hackman’s uncomfortably infatuated if not outright obsessed right-hand man. It’s his relationship with both Costner and Hackman’s characters that ties the plot together and given those relationships are both unique and interesting but in very different ways, it adds an additional air of intrigue to the film.

The audience may stumble across some minor plot-holes from time to time but the fast pace to the plot and great performances paint over any such shortcomings. Though No Way Out technically counts as a remake of  the 1948 film-noir The Big Clock (which was more closely based on Kenneth Fearing’s novel), the story is totally re-written in line with the paranoia of the Cold War with the only similarities being the essence of that film’s plot. In fact, in the current climate of mindless and greedily motivated remakes, reboots, and sequels, No Way Out stands as a reminder of what remakes were all about back when they happened once in a blue moon and were artistically motivated reinterpretations.

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