Actor Kevin Costner seems to have cornered the market on excitement in summer movies. After reviving the role of Chicago crime fighter Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, Costner now lends his clean-cut charm to No Way Out, a lithe thriller about dark secrets in the Pentagon. It has all the classic elements: sexual intrigue, murder,
coverup—and a last-minute plot twist that catches the audience totally off-guard.
Costner plays Tom Farrell, a fastrising young naval officer who is suddenly dispatched to the Pentagon. There the secretary of defence (Gene Hackman) assigns him to do some discreet snooping into CIA secrets. One morning his superiors ask him to lead a top-secret murder investigation. In fact, the inquiry is a high-level coverup: Farrell is being used to track down a bogus suspect—a Soviet spy—to protect the identity of the real killer. Although Farrell knows much more than his superiors realize, he has no choice but to play along.
The story takes time to get into gear. Many of the early scenes are devoted to Farrell’s hot-blooded romance with Susan (Sean Young)—who is also the defence secretary’s mistress. But once the elements of the intrigue converge, the plot pushes toward its target with ballistic intensity. Refreshingly, most of the chase scenes are on
foot—and are far from pedestrian.
What makes the film more than just another clever thriller is the acting. Costner, who performs his own stunts, carries out his leading-man mandate with decathlon virtuosity. In one steamy scene he eagerly takes apart Susan’s dress and makes love to her in the back of a limousine; in another he is her gallant escort on a sailboat outing. Hackman is brilliant as the corrupt yet vulnerable defence secretary. And William Patton is almost too sinister as his Machiavellian adviser. Together they bring a chill of political reality to No Way Out—a movie that captures the imagination and seals off all the exits.
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