The Film: No Way Out (1987)

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The Principles: Roger Donaldson (Director).  Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Will Patton, Sean Young, George Dzundza, Iman, Howard Duff, Jason Bernard, Fred Dalton Thompson, etc.

The Premise: A Naval commander is charged with investigating the death of the Secretary of Defense’s mistress, who was supposedly murdered at the hands of a Russian spy.  Problem is, the commander was sleeping with her too.

Is It Good?: No.  Absolutely not.  Despite having a nice premise, a good twist ending, and a great cast, No Way Out is a dud.  It is considered by most to be the film that made Kevin Costner a star.  Excuse me.  I promise I will continue after I stop laughing.  Are you serious?  The man makes Fandango, Silverado, and The Untouchables…the latter of which also came out in ’87…and THIS was his breakout role?  Something is wrong with you, America.  This film is vanilla from top to bottom.  Try as the cast might, this is a clunker.  The script is tepid and the direction is lifeless, which was a disappointment for me considering how great Roger Donaldson’s second film with Kevin Costner, Thirteen Days, turned out.

In many ways, this truly is a precursor to the John Grisham and Tom Clancy adaptations of the ’90s.  Problem is, No Way Out isn’t even as good as most of the lesser adaptations in that grouping.  I would rather sit down and watch Runaway Jury ten times than give this one another look.  Okay, that’s a bit extreme.  Apologies for the exaggeration.  Still, I really would rather give Runaway Jury a second go than sit down with No Way Out again.  Speaking of Clancy, Mace “Jack Ryan” Neufeld produced this particularly flick.  Thankfully he learned from his mistakes here when he brought The Hunt For Red October to the screen three years later.

I’ve slowly been playing catch up on Kevin Costner (and Tom Cruise) films I’ve missed over the years.  Whereas I had a wonderful time with For Love of the Game (might write that one up at some point) and lamented the fact that I had waited so long to see it, I had the opposite reaction to this one.  I really would like two hours of my life back.  Normally I prefer to write up films here that I’ve always liked or a recent first time viewing of something that I really took to.  I usually shy away from dumping on a film unless it’s a “so bad that you REALLY should see it”-type deal because reading negative reviews of old films just isn’t fun a lot of the time.  I’m making an exception in this case because I’d been led to believe over the years that this was a worthwhile effort.  It’s not.  Not even for Sean Young’s beyond ridiculous slow-mo death scene.  This is exactly the kind of flaccid film that we would attack our current stars for making if it were released today.

Is It Worth A Look?: Please don’t.

Random Anecdotes: This is a remake of the 1948 noir, The Big Clock.

Contains Brad Pitt’s first onscreen role.

Costner performed the majority of his own stunts.

Cinematic Soulmates: Basic, Broken City, The Chamber, The General’s Daughter, A Painted House, Rules of Engagement, Runaway Jury.  All of which are terrible films, but probably worth a look if you actually like this one.