No Way Out
A straight romance that turns into a thriller, and plays fair … except possibly at the end. It’s a very Hitchcockian story, the basic plot of the innocent man, not wrongly accused in this instance, but innocent, and hunted. I hesitate to tell too much, as there is a startling change of direction at the end of the first act, and a big surprise at the end. I didn’t like the end, but I can’t say I was cheated in any way.
One big positive, in my book: this was back in the days when, after a long chase on foot, it was still okay to have the hero be out of breath. You notice that, more and more lately? Somebody will run flat out, at a sprinting pace, and when he stops he’s just fine. He doesn’t pant, he doesn’t sweat, he doesn’t shake, he’s able to aim his pistol just fine. So untrue. Even a presumably in-shape Navy officer and two professional hit men—even an Olympic athlete—will be pretty beat after a chase like the one in this film, and they are. Plus, Kevin Costner takes a pretty long fall and lands on his back … and doesn’t spring to his feet. In fact, he almost doesn’t get up at all. He’s stunned, and just lies there. I like realism like this in a film.
I tried to find out if any of the film was actually shot in the Pentagon, but all the IMDb has to say is Arlington, Virginia. Some of the corridors we see are incredibly long; hard to guess where else they might have been shooting. And I discovered that something in the film was shot in Auckland, New Zealand. I can’t imagine what that might have been, unless the Kiwis have a big sound stage that can deliver torrents of water and gale force wind, for a scene where Costner rescues a sailor on a destroyer who’s about to be swept overboard. That’s probably it. Must have been cheaper there.
And these days, it is astonishing to look back only 22 years and see just how far computers have come. There are no Macs or PCs in this film, no cell phones, no iPods or PDAs. It was a different world. One of the “ticking clocks” of the plot was a computer performing the “miraculous” task of enhancing a photograph that we know will show Costner’s face and incriminate him. This process takes several days. I’d bet that the computer I’m writing this on could do it in seconds, if I had the right software.