No Way Out (1987)



Critic Consensus: Roger Donaldson's modern spin on the dense, stylish suspense films of the 1940s features fine work from Gene Hackman and Sean Young, as well as the career-making performance that made Kevin Costner a star.

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Movie Info

No Way Out is told in flashback as Naval officer Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) is grilled by his superiors regarding a recent "unpleasantness." While at a Washington party, Tom meets Susan Atwel (Sean Young), and they're soon sharing a steamy love scene in the back of a limo (marvelously parodied in 1993's Hot Shots! Part Deux). Several months pass before Tom meets Susan again; he discovers she's the mistress of the US Secretary of Defense David Brice (Gene Hackman). When Susan is murdered by Brice, his loyal aide (Will Patton) dutifully destroys the evidence and invents the fallacious theory that a KGB mole was responsible. Tom is assigned to locate that mole -- a perilous situation, since Tom knows that no such mole exists, but must go along with the charade since he was the last person who was seen with Susan.
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Action & Adventure , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
HBO Video

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Kevin Costner
as Lt. Cmdr. Tom Farrell
Gene Hackman
as Defense Secretary David Brice
Sean Young
as Susan Atwell
Will Patton
as Scott Pritchard
Howard Duff
as Senator William 'Billy' Duvall
George Dzundza
as Sam Hesselman
Jason Bernard
as Maj. Donovan
as Nina Beka
Leon Russom
as Kevin O'Brien
Marshall Bell
as Contra
Michael Shillo
as Schiller
Nicholas Worth
as Cup Breaker
Leo Geter
as Ensign Fox
Matthew Barry
as Bellboy
John D'Aquino
as Lt. John Chadway
Peter Bell
as Seaman Dufor
Tony Webster
as Helmsman
as Gregory/Quartermaster
Matthew Evans
as J.O.D.
Gregory Le Noel
as Quartermaster
Charles Middleton
as Airport Cop
Joan McMurtrey
as Programmer
Edith Fields
as Lorraine
Frederick Allen
as Enlisted Man
Mathew Evans
as J.O.D.
Noel Manchan
as Computer Clerk
June Chandler
as Margaret Brice
Lee Shael
as Band Singer
Jeffrey Sudzin
as Man with Lighter
Gordon Needham
as Limo Driver
Paul Austin Kelly
as Cab Driver
Charles J. Middleton
as Airport Cop
Stephen R. Asinas
as Filipino Urchin
Terence Cooper
as N.Z. Ambassador
Dorothy Parke
as TV Reporter
Jay Arlen Jones
as Marine Guard
Rob Sullivan
as Marine Guard
Gregory Avellone
as Technician
Jeremy Glenn
as Technician
David Paymer
as Technician
Charles Walker
as Technician
Bob Courts
as C.I.D. Man
Bruce Dobus
as C.I.D. Man
Darryl Henriques
as C.I.D. Man
John Hostetter
as C.I.D. Man
Michael Hungerford
as C.I.D. Man
Jill Clark
as Maori Dancer
Robert Kerman
as C.I.D. Man
Chris D.
as Contra
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Critic Reviews for No Way Out

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (13)

While the film's behind-the-scenes look into the world of Washington bureaucracy is appealing, the movie is a complete letdown as a thriller, dissolving into implausible silliness.

Full Review… | July 29, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

No Way Out emerges, paradoxically, as a film that is better than it has to be and not as good as it ought to be, but there is skill here, as well as an admirable willingness to try something new.

Full Review… | July 29, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

No Way Out's greatest prize is Costner, a leading man at last: fiercely good, intelligent, appreciatively sensual in a performance balanced perfectly between action and introspection.

Full Review… | July 29, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A thriller that grabs you even before the ironies of its plot kick in is a thriller you don't want to miss. No Way Out is that sort of movie, a thriller that's thrilling throughout.

Full Review… | July 29, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

A juicy thriller-romance bursting out of the Pentagon's arid corridors.

Full Review… | July 29, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Viewers who arrive at the movie five minutes late and leave five minutes early will avoid the setup and payoff for the preposterous twist that spoils this lively, intelligent remake of 1948's The Big Clock.

Full Review… | May 23, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for No Way Out


This is a pretty damn good and entertaining suspense/thriller. This is one of those movies that keeps getting better is it goes along and it, most definitely, ends on a high note. If I had a problem with the film is that, until Susan's death, the romance between her and Tom was a little corny. The acting is strong all around, but I didn't find these parts particularly intriguing. Not bad, but not memorable either. When Susan is murdered, that's when the movie kicks into high gear. I found the mystery surrounding the investigation, even though everything, up until the twist, seems pretty cut and dried as to the events that happened. You get to see this story of this man, Will Patton, who's so loyal to David Brice that he's willing to do anything, and I do mean anything, to make sure that Brice is not implicated in the murder by using this cover story of a KGB agent that's infiltrated the Department of Defense. Since Will Patton's character is such a manipulator, and the brains, of the entire investigation, you never for a second doubt Tom's innocence. Which is where the twist comes in. I'm assuming anyone who reads this will be able to put two and two together, but I'm still not gonna spoil it as it would ruin most of the fun of the movie. The thing about the twist is that it's actually really very logical and fits in with the theme of the movie perfectly. The problem with most twists nowadays is that a lot of them are just done because it's shocking and not because it actually makes sense within the story you're telling. It's tremendous when you think about it because you really think that the twist itself is a red herring and something meant to throw you off what is actually happening. The twist in this movie is genius to be honest, it's surprising but completely logical within the story they're telling. And the movie is just really exciting and fun to watch once Susan dies. I must make mention of Will Patton, who is absolutely tremendous as the main villain. He's such a perfect prick, a man who will do anything to keep his position of power. He's also a highlight in the film. So all in all, this is a really entertaining thriller with a great twist. Great acting from all involved too, so I can't complain that much other than the really corny romance.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

Minister of Defense David Brice (Gene Hackman) accidently kills his mistress Susan (Sean Young) and his secretary Scott Pritchard (Will Patton) devices a ploy to frame someone else. They launch a full scale investigation claiming that the man this woman was seeing was a soviet spy (Yuri) within the Pentagon and they must find this man. Brice appoints his own investigator to find the presumed killer but the catch is that the investigator is the man they're hunting for. Kevin Costner is also excellent as Tom Farrell who finds out that his girlfriend has been killed and can't show any emotion without giving up the fact that he was involved with her. Will Patton steals the show in my opinion with a brilliant portrayal of absolute loyalty. NO WAY OUT is an almost perfect thriller about a man who finds himself entangled in a situation in which there is seemingly, well, no way out. Once the murder happens, the movie kicks into high gear keeping you on the edge of your seat. This is a riveting, thought-provoking, and fast paced thriller, with plenty of plot twists and turns and I was blown away by the surprise twist at the end. .

Deb S
Deb S

Super Reviewer


Costner vehicle saved from total mediocrity by, yet again, Gene Hackman (he should've belonged to International Rescue the number of dreary Hollywood thrillers he's salvaged...) Decent twist at the end, too.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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