Monday, October 27, 2014
NO WAY OUT (1987)
(August 1987, U.S.)
For every hardcore cinematic conviction of mine, there's usually an exception or two. You've heard me rant and rave about my general distaste for remakes, and yet I can't help but confess that there do exist some remakes that I actually feel outsoar the original, though many of them fall into the genre of horror and monster movies, i.e. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978), DRACULA (1979), THE THING (1982) and THE FLY (1986). When I went to see NO WAY OUT on screen in August 1987 before returning to another year of college, I had absolutely no idea that it was a remake of a 1948 film called THE BIG CLOCK (a film I've previously discussed, by the way). By the end of that summer, I would have seen just about anything Kevin Costner was starring in, having already been blown away by THE UNTOUCHABLES just a couple of months prior (I went to see it twice!). Besides, the trailer looked real good and Sean Young is rather sexually smokin', despite the big 1980's hairdo...
Whereas the original film of THE BIG CLOCK was more of a direct domestic crisis of murder and deception within the walls of a powerful newspaper, NO WAY OUT is more of a modern political thriller and its focus on the corrupted figures and their abuse of powers. Similarly to the original film, there is a secret, scandalous affair and a mistress who ultimately ends up dead. For this film, we have a love triangle between said mistress Susan Atwell (Sean Young), commander Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) and Secretary of Defense, David Brice (played by Gene Hackman). While Susan is seeing both men, it would appear that sex (including some hot backseat limo sex!) and love are only being given to Tom. It's David, though, who accidentally kills her when he jealously hits her and she falls to her death. The ironic twist here is that Tom's secret identity becomes the prime suspect here and it's specifically Tom who must lead the investigation into the mystery of who killed Susan.
(you getting all of this??)
So while Tom must appear to be making progress with Susan's murder, he must also undertake the painstaking task of hiding himself from his own investigation. It should also be noted that throughout the film's story, we're made aware of a phantom character by the name of Yuri, who's been identified as only a secret Soviet Union spy within the midst of our own United States government. Remember, this is still two years before the Cold War would officially end, so this sort of threat could still hold water on the American movie screen. As the film moves forward, Tom sets about proving that David Brice was involved with Susan by searching computer files for evidence that Brice gave her a government-registered gift he received from Morocco. Tom presents the gift-registry printout to David who shifts the blame to Pritchard, his rather disgustingly loyal assistant (played by Will Patton) arguing that Pritchard was jealous of his relationship with Susan (because Pritchard is gay and probably wants David for himself!). A devastated Pritchard ends up committing suicide and is falsely exposed as "Yuri" to the police by Brice, hoping to avoid blame for Susan's death. Who Yuri really is, we learn only at the very conclusion of the film. Guessed it yet? Well, consider how easy it is never to suspect the film's hero of being something other than what he appears to be. Guessed it yet???
NO WAY OUT is one of those films that can really give you cause to miss the 1980s, in that we simply don't see much by way of the cat-and-mouse labyrinth of political thrillers and the effective use of Washington D.C. and its government corruption anymore. Those simple intriguing thrills by way of classic Alfred Hitchcock have been (unfortunately) replaced by the harsh realities of terror attacks on our government soils, which is why when we're offered political thrillers in this day and age, it's more in the form of crap like OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and WHITE HOUSE DOWN! It's enough to make you miss the Cold War!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Schiller (speaking Russian): "We thought we'd never see you again."
Tom Farrell (speaking Russian): "So did I."
Schiller: "Couldn't you have manage this better?"
Tom: "Not so fast, it's difficult for me to follow in Russian.
(switches to English)
Tom: "It's been very long for me."
Schiller: "How thirsty you must be for the sound of our language. Yevgeny Alekseevich, wouldn't you love to hear Russian again? Imagine Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy..."
Tom: "...Solzhenitsyn, Aksyonov."
Schiller: "Even them, always the sense of humor. In the Philippines, when you passed a bag of underwear, Moscow wasn't amused. I should've acted then. In any case, it's not possible for to remain in the United States. This bizarre incident has given them their Yuri. Yevgeny, think. THINK! You're a hero of the Soviet Union!"
Tom: "I'm not a hero."
Schiller: "Be that as it may, you must return!"
Tom: "I came here! I thought I owed you that, but you can't make me go back!"