Film and Plot Synopsis
After the brutal murder of a beautiful woman, the secretary of defense brings in a young naval commander to find the killer. While the secretary doesn’t know that the girl and the commander were lovers, the commander knows that the secretary killed her.
‘No Way Out’ Movie Summary
When we first see Commander Farrell, he’s in a safe house being interrogated by an unknown superior hiding behind a two-way mirror. Bloodied and tired, Commander Farrell’s story begins six months earlier – that’s when Commander Farrell is invited to a Washington party flooded with politicians, military higher ups, power players, and a prominent DC whore, played by Sean Young.
Farrell is there at the request of his college friend Pritchard to meet Brice and possibly get a job in the Department of Defense. But after getting blown off by Brice, Farrell decides to take his chance with the whore, Susan Atwell, again played by Sean Young.
Atwell is taken by Farrell’s confidence and charm – and let’s face it – the man looks good in a white uniform. So the two of them decide to escape the party and take a ride through the town in the whore’s limo – seeing the monuments and knocking out a few in the back seat, much to the delight of the creepy limo driver who keeps trying to catch a glimpse.
They wind up at the apartment of Atwell’s friend Nina Beka, played by the model Iman, who looks pretty damn gorgeous in this movie. Tom and Susan want to borrow Nina’s apartment so they can continue their whoreship without Susan’s “Sugar Daddy” finding out.
After the weekend is up, Tom must ship out to Manila leaving Susan heartbroken. You can tell that they’ve really connected and have a bond, and that Susan is genuinely in love with Tom. REAL love – not that $500 dollar a night crap she’s used to.
While Tom is in Manila, we find that Susan’s Sugar Daddy is actually Secretary Brice himself. We see Brice over at Susan’s apartment, having just finished up a session. But in all seriousness, Susan’s not really a prostitute, she’s much higher up on the food chain – she’s his mistress. So she’s got that going for her – which is …… nice.
While in Manila, Tom performs a daring rescue at sea saving the life of a sailor who has been swept over the side of a ship. This heroism makes its way into the DC Newspapers. While Secretary Brice is having breakfast with his lapdop Pritchard, they spot Senator Duval and CIA Director Marshall. Two men who are pushing for something called “The Phantom Submarine” – something that will cost billions of dollars, and something that Brice wants to shut down. Needing an inside man who is above politics, Brice asks Pritchard to get in touch with Commander Farrell and bring him back from Manila to work on them gathering information from the CIA and from Duval’s committee.
Farrell quickly makes himself useful and shows his ability to navigate the DC waters by getting someone from the CIA to give him advanced copies of the budgets for the submarine. If all of this gets confusing, don’t worry – none of this is actually important to the plot.
Back in town, Farrell reconnects with Susan and the two of them spend the weekend together in Upper Chesapeake Bay. When they return, Brice is on his way to see Susan. Unsure of what to do and desperate, she asks Farrell to leave out the back so Brice doesn’t see him. She’s in love with Farrell and tells him that she will break up with Brice. Not happy about the situation, since his money is just as good as anyone else’s, Tom does what she asks and sneaks out the back. While making his exit, he spots Brice going in. Brice spots him as well, but cannot make out who it is since it is dark outside.
Once inside, Brice confronts Susan and says he knows she’s been away for the weekend. They get into a fight and Brice slaps Susan, accidentally sending over the second story banister and falling to her death. Horrified by what he has just done, Brice goes over to Pritchard’s house to let him know what has happened, and that he plans to go to the police to confess. Prichard, however, has a different plan. He goes over to Susan’s and thoroughly wipes the place clean of any prints or evidence of Brice every having been there. While searching the apartment he finds the negative side of a Polaroid. Knowing that Susan has never taken a photo of Brice, Pritchard concocts a plan – that whoever is in the photograph must be the person who murdered Susan. And in order for them to control the investigation, this person must be so highly classified that only the Department of Defense can control it.
Enter the fictitious Yuri. Yuri is a phantom – a ghost. Someone who doesn’t actually exist, but who all the government agencies believe exists. As the story goes, Yuri is a Russian spy who was sent the United States as a teenager to infiltrate the government agencies at the highest level. All the agencies believe this to be true, so Pritchard uses this as the excuse to mount the top level investigation, circumventing the other agencies in order to control the investigation and to protect Brice.
They place Commander Farrell in charge of the investigation. What they don’t know is that Commander Farrell is the other man Susan was sleeping with, and is the man who saw Secretary Brice go into Susan’s apartment. Farrell doesn’t yet know that Susan is dead when they call him in to start the investigation. When he sees her name on the paperwork and realizes it was his lover that Brice killed, he has to maintain his composure and pretend he doesn’t know anything. Farrell now has the unenviable task of trying to solve this murder and prove it was Brice who killed Susan, while at the same time making sure the investigation doesn’t point right back to him. You see, it was Farrell who was in the Polaroid picture that Susan took. Since the picture is underdeveloped and the image isn’t clear, the computer lab uses a program to start scanning the picture to try and find an image. But the process could take hours or it could take weeks – there’s no way of knowing. Farrell knows that once they see the image he’s toast and they will blame him for not only being Susan’s murderer, but also for being the mythical Russian mole Yuri.
Things get even more difficult for tom when the CID brings in two witnesses who saw Tom with Susan in Upper Chesapeake Bay – a bellhop from the hotel they stayed at, who for some reason has to wear his uniform off-hours, and a dock worker who rented Tom and Susan a sailboat while they were there. Pritchard decides that they must close down the Pentagon, the largest building in the world, and have all the employees file past the witnesses to see if they recognize the man that they saw. At the same time they are going to do an office to office search of the entire building. Meanwhile, Pritchard has found out about Susan’s friend Nina, and that Nina knows that Susan was seeing Brice. He and Farrell go to see Nina, where Pritchard confronts her and asks who the other person was that Susan was seeing. Walking a fine line, Nina obviously recognizes and knows that it was Tom, but Nina stands her ground and does not give him up. And that’s enough to satisfy Pritchard for the time being.
Pritchard and Farrell leave, but later Pritchard sends two goons to go kill Nina. Realizing what Pritchard is up to, Farrell goes after them This leads to the only chase in the movie – starting in cars and ending in a footrace to Nina’s. And I use the term footrace lightly because while Costner runs like an actual man, the two goons run like eight year old girls whose arms never get above their waste. Farrell gets to Nina first and saves her before getting into a fight with the goons.
Back at the Pentagon, the Polaroid image is starting to come in. In charge of the computer lab is Dr. Hesselman, an old friend of Tom’s. Tom confides in Dr. Hesselman. He tells him that he is the one in the picture and asks Dr. Hesselman to change the computer program and slow it down so that he can have more time and tells him that Brice is the actual murderer. Hesselman knows that it is counter-productive, but being Tom’s friend he does it anyway – buying Tom a little more time.
While the search of the Pentagon continues, and agent comes in to Farrell’s office and hands him a jewelry box that was a piece of evidence from Susan’s apartment that somehow got misplaced. Tom recognizes the jewelry box as a gift that Brice and given to Susan. This is finally the piece of evidence Tom needs to prove that Brice knew Susan. Since the box was originally a gift that a foreign dignitary had given to Brice, it must be registered with the state department. So Tom checks to see when it was given, but finds that it was never registered with the State Department. So Tom goes back to Dr. Hesselman and asks him to insert the information into the State Department’s computer, which Hesselman begrudgingly does.
In the meantime the search is getting closer to both Farrell and the computer lab. Feeling guilty about both tampering with the State Department computer, as well as trying to help his friend Farrell, Hesselman calls Pritchard and asks him to meet him in the basketball gym where no one will be. There he tells Pritchard that he is concerned for Farrell because he believes Farrell is in over his head. He also tells Pritchard that Farrell believes Secretary Brice killed Susan, and that Farrell asked him to insert the information about Brice’s gift into the State Department computer, which he did. He is confiding in Pritchard because he knows Pritchard is Farrell’s friend. Upon hearing the information, Pritchard pulls out a gun and shoots Hesselman dead.
By this time the information that Hesselman has inserted into the computer has printed out and given Farrell the proof he needs that Brice knew Susan. Farrell goes to Brice’s office and confronts him with the evidence. At this point the CID comes in and informs them that Dr. Hesselman has been shot – they think by Yuri. Pritchard then comes in and excuses everyone from the office. Pritchard now knows that Tom is the one in the Polaroid, and therefore Tom must be Yuri.
Tom and Pritchard get into a confrontation and Brice has to step in and separate them. Brice decides that the best thing to do is give up Pritchard and blame him for Susan’s death. Upon hearing Brice’s betrayal, a devastated Pritchard takes the gun and puts it to his head. He pulls the trigger and kills himself. Hearing the gunshot, the CID rushes into the office. They see Pritchard dead on the floor. Brice tells them that their search is over – that Pritchard is the man who killed Susan, and therefore must also be Yuri – even though Yuri doesn’t really exist.
An extremely upset Tom leaves the office. He gets into his car and starts driving away. He ends up at Susan’s grave where two government agents come and pick him up. We are now back at the safe house where we first saw Tom in the beginning. He is continuing his confession. Finally he decides to confront the officer who is behind the two way mirror. The door slides open and out steps the agent. Only it is not anyone from the U.S. Government. The agent begins speaking to Tom in Russian – and Tom responds in Russian as well.
The agent tells Tom that it is good to have him back, and that it would be great to take him back to his homeland of Russia, the National hero that he is. And with that, we now know that not only was the fictitious Yuri indeed real – but that Commander Farrell was actually Yuri all along.
In the end, Farrell decides that he will stay in the United States and take his chances with whatever the future may bring.
And that is 1987’s NO WAY OUT.