No Way Out (1987) “Who Can You Trust?”- The Mystery/ Suspense Spy Film


DIRECTOR: Roger Donaldson

Thirty years ago Kevin Costner was an up and coming actor who had just recently got off the set of De Palma’s “The Untouchables”  where he was Elliot Ness. Kevin Costner was becoming a main lead and No Way Out is the film that gave him an edge over others in his generation.

In this 80s thriller Costner plays Commander Tom Farrell, Hackman as Secretary of Defense David Brice and Sean Young as Susan Atwell.


The film follows US Secretary of Defense David Brice  who hires Commander Tom Farrell a Navy Investigator to find the lover of his mistress that he passionately killed so he can frame a KGB sleeper agent so he can be accused of the murder. The secretary has no idea that Farrell was the boyfriend of Susan Atwell and the plot thickens from there. No Way Out is less about international intrigue and more about ethics and choices, betrayal and deceit.

Some of the great set pieces in this film aren’t the car chases but watching Costner eyeballing the dot matrix printer awaiting clues to help his case of investigation.

Hackman is always reliable playing strong cocky and confident roles, here he is right at home earning his paycheck. Costner comes into his own playing his charismatic self and embodying his character reminding audiences why he was a star of the 1980’s and  1990’s.  An actor that may be overlooked in this film is George Dzundza as Sam Hesselman.  Dzundza creates more tension in what Hesselman’s  character choices are and those scenes hold up well in the film.


If this film was to be remade (please, no) I can imagine Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges playing the lead roles but New Zealand director Roger Donaldson knows how to create suspense, thrill and edge so that a remake is not required.

If you’re an aspiring director watch this film to learn the craft of suspense, thrillers and paranoia on film.


Kevin Costner as Tom Farrell

Gene Hackman as David Brice

Will Patton as Scott Pritchard

Sean Young as Susan Atwell

George Dzundza as Sam Hesselman



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