No Way Out (1987 film)

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No Way Out
No Way Out (1987 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roger Donaldson
Produced by Robert Garland
Laura Ziskin
Screenplay by Robert Garland
Based on The Big Clock 
by Kenneth Fearing
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography John Alcott
Edited by William Hoy
Neil Travis
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release dates
  • August 14, 1987 (1987-08-14)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $35,509,515

No Way Out is a 1987 thriller film. It stars Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, and Sean Young. Will Patton, Howard Duff, George Dzundza, Jason Bernard, Fred Thompson, and Iman appear in supporting roles.

The film is a remake of 1948's The Big Clock. Both films are based on Kenneth Fearing's 1946 novel The Big Clock. Filming locations included Baltimore, Annapolis, Arlington, Washington, D.C., and Auckland, New Zealand. The film features original music by Academy Award-winning composer Maurice Jarre.


At an inaugural ball, US Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrell meets a woman, Susan Atwell, and they begin an affair, although she is involved with another man. Later, Farrell begins to work at the Pentagon for the US Secretary of Defense, David Brice.

Soon, Farrell learns that the other man in Susan's life is Brice himself, who in turn learns of Susan's infidelity. While demanding the name of her lover, Brice kills her in a jealous rage. At first ready to turn himself in, Brice is persuaded by his General Counsel, Scott Pritchard, to blame it on someone else. They concoct a story that Susan's other lover was a suspected but unconfirmed KGB sleeper agent code-named "Yuri."

Brice appoints Farrell to lead the investigation to find and arrest "Yuri", placing him in the position of seeking evidence that could implicate himself. Meanwhile, Farrell sets about proving Brice was involved with Susan by searching computer files for evidence that Brice gave her a government-registered gift he received from the Moroccan foreign minister. In the film's climax, Farrell confronts Brice with the gift-registry printout. Arguing that Pritchard (a gay man) was jealous of his relationship with Susan, Brice falsely accuses him of her murder. A devastated Pritchard commits suicide and is falsely exposed as "Yuri" to the Pentagon police by Brice. Moments later, Farrell quietly sends evidence implicating Brice to outside law enforcement.

In a twist ending, it is revealed that Farrell is in fact the real "Yuri" and is the KGB's mole in the Department of Defense. Aware of Brice's affair, the Kremlin had ordered Farrell to seduce his mistress and gather intelligence from her. Implying that he should have blackmailed Brice instead of exposing him, Farrell's handlers angrily berate him, saying the situation was "poorly handled."

Visibly heartbroken by Susan's death, however, Farrell tells his handlers that he is finished being a KGB mole. After he leaves the KGB's safehouse, his handler snaps, "He'll return. Where else does he have to go?"



Box office[edit]

The film debuted at number 2 at the box office after Stakeout.[1] The film's budget was an estimated $15 million; its total U.S. gross was over $35 million.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was very well received by critics and as of December 4, 2015, holds a 90% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews.[3]

Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, calling it "truly labyrinthine and ingenious."[4] Richard Schickel of Time wrote, "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."[5] Desson Thomson of The Washington Post wrote, "The film makes such good use of Washington and builds suspense so well that it transcends a plot bordering on ridiculous."[6]


  1. ^ "Stakeout' Ranks No. 1 In Box-Office Sales". The New York Times. September 2, 1987. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  2. ^ "Box office / business for No Way Out (1987)". IMDb. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ "No Way Out". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-04-14. 
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 14, 1987). "No Way Out". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ Schickel, Richard (17 August 1987). "Cinema: Hot Films, Unhappy Endings". Time. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  6. ^ Thomson, Desson (August 14, 1987). "‘No Way Out". The Washington Post’. Retrieved April 14, 2013.  C1 control character in |title= at position 1 (help); C1 control character in |work= at position 20 (help)

External links[edit]