johnlink ranks NO WAY OUT (1987)

I remember seeing the cover art for this years ago and thinking it must be a wonderfully cheesy film. Kevin Costner stars as a Washington intelligence hopeful who is having a love affair with the mistress of Gene Hackman (as the Sec. of Defense), played by Sean Young. All I could hope was for it to be more suspense, and less cheese. SOME LIGHT SPOILERS FOLLOW.

I watched NO WAY OUT (1987) on 11.8.11. It was my first viewing of the film.

Like RED DAWN, this was an 80s film which had eluded me until these rankings, and which I found some appreciation for.

Without question, NO WAY OUT has some severe flaws. These include a shocking sense of homophobia, a weak chase scene, a strange twist ending, and a little too much convenience for the main character.

Despite these faults, this film works on many levels. Costner’s hero has us anticipating these ridiculous odds he must overcome to deceive pretty much every single person in the Pentagon. He manages to do it, keeping the audience rapt with tension.

Much of this movie foreshadows the ending, hoping to convince us that the lines between good and evil are not as clear as they may seem, while giving a sympathetic face to the enemy. Bold to be certain, but not unlike some of the elements of other post Cold War flicks.

Will Patton is stellar in this as Gene Hackman’s fixer. He is cold, hearltess, power-hungry, sinister, and (as Fred Thompson and the script feel the need to point out) homosexual. He is the only truly evil character in the film given any kind of importance. Even Hackman, for his faults, has decency and a sense of morality which fills him with guilt.

Sean Young is halfway decent, though the concept of beauty may have evolved over the past couple of decades. While she is certainly appealing; her attitude, her smoking, her clothing, her hair, her lifestyle… it is all stuck in the 80s.

The intelligence gathering and the use of computers are woefully outdated (a major plot twist revolves around uncovering the pixels in a Polaroid negative). But it is sometimes nice to see a film play out in a way where satellites and cell phones and cameras do not merely render any situation instantly solvable.

At the best of its moments this felt like bits of Harrison Ford in PATRIOT GAMES. At its worst, it felt like cheesy romance with a synthetic background. But it works more than it doesn’t, and I found myself taken along for this fun ride.



The negative point is for some horribly dated 80s music, not the least of which is a brutal title song by Paul Anka. Maybe if I grew up with some of this, I would feel differently about it.



~ by johnlink00 on November 9, 2011.

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