No Way Out (1987)


No Way Out is a 1987 thriller film about a U.S. Naval officer investigating a Washington, D.C. murder. It stars Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman and Sean Young. It is a remake of The Big Clock; both films are based on The Big Clock, a novel by Kenneth Fearing. Although the reworked plot deals with themes - government coverup and conflict between agencies and branches of government - which were in the public mind in the decades after the Watergate Scandal, certain elements also resemble the Profumo Scandal which took place in Britain in the early 1960s. The supporting cast includes Will Patton, Howard Duff, George Dzundza, Jason Bernard, Fred Thompson and Iman. Brad Pitt appears (uncredited) as an officer at a party laughing about a Maori dancer; this was Pitt's first movie role. The film was very well received by movie critics and currently holds a 96% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to the Orion Pictures Corporation studio, filming locations were Annapolis, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., as well as Auckland, New Zealand. The film features original music by the Academy Award-winning Maurice Jarre.


At a ball, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) meets a young woman, Susan Atwell (Sean Young). The two immediately begin an affair, although Atwell is involved with someone else. During his next Naval deployment, Farrell rescues a sailor from his ship during a storm and becomes a hero. He is brought back to Washington to work at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Secretary of Defense David Brice (Gene Hackman) is aware that his General Counsel Scott Pritchard (Will Patton) is an old friend of Farrell's. Brice is attempting to cancel a white elephant "Phantom Sub" project that has powerful political backing. Brice decides that Farrell should act as his direct liaison to the CIA. The real purpose is to gather information about whether the Soviets really are working on such a project. Soon after, Farrell finds out that the other man in Susan's life is Secretary Brice. Brice in turn learns of Susan's infidelity. While demanding the name of her new lover, he slaps Susan in a jealous rage and fatally knocks her off an indoor balcony. Ready to turn himself in, Brice is persuaded by Pritchard to cover up everything and blame it on someone else. They concoct a story that claims Susan's other lover was in fact a KGB sleeper agent code-named "Yuri." In the aftermath, they focus all attention on an attempt to capture him. Confident that "Yuri" doesn't exist, Director of Central Intelligence Marshall (Fred Dalton Thompson) dismisses the possibility of it being Pritchard having an affair with Susan, saying that Pritchard is homosexual. Brice appoints Farrell to lead the investigation to find Susan's other lover. Farrell is thus placed in the position of attempting to find evidence that could falsely implicate himself. The only forensic evidence in the case is a badly damaged Polaroid negative recovered from Susan's house, which requires lengthy computerized processing to become visible. Farrell pleads with systems analyst Sam Hesselman, an old friend, to slow down the processing and confides in him. While the processing takes place, Farrell sets about re-directing attention back onto Brice. He does this by searching government printouts for evidence that Brice gave Susan a present which was a government-registered gift from Morocco. Pritchard harasses Nina Beka, a close friend of Susan's, by threatening deportation back to South Africa. Then he sends covert assassins to "take care of" her. Farrell comes to Nina's rescue just in time. A suspicious Sam goes to Pritchard with concerns about what Farrell told him. Realizing that Sam can implicate Brice, Pritchard shoots him in cold blood. A race develops between two pieces of evidence: the processing of the picture implicating Farrell and a printout of the gift's registration implicating Secretary Brice. Farrell obtains the printout first and confronts Brice with the evidence. Brice shifts the blame to Pritchard, arguing that Pritchard was jealous of his relationship with Susan. A devastated Pritchard commits suicide with a pistol. The film ends with a surprising plot twist. Farrell is mourning at Susan's grave when two plainclothes men arrive and take him away for questioning. One of the interrogators is Farrell's landlord. After a few moments, he addresses Farrell in Russian and Farrell responds in kind. Farrell is, in fact, the real "Yuri," and his landlord is his KGB supervisor. Yuri/Farrell was planted in the U.S. as a teenager and became the "mole" in the Department of Defense. As the KGB was aware of Brice's affair, Farrell was assigned to seduce Atwell and gather intelligence from the Secretary of Defense's mistress. Although his handlers demand that he return to the Soviet Union, Farrell refuses and leaves. Calmly, his handler quips, "He'll be back. Where else does he have to go?"