Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Shout Factory - NO WAY OUT on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Shout Factory - NO WAY OUT on Blu-ray

NO WAY OUT (1987; Roger Donaldson)
I am fascinated by all the rabbit holes you can go down when you watch movies a lot. You can get caught up in time periods, with specific directors and actors or you can even get hung up on genres. And as I get older, nostalgia often weighs in on my selections. One minute, I'm watching a string of Freddie Prinze Jr. movies from the 90s and next, I'm revisiting some Fred and Ginger. A horror movie or two find their way in, but lately - I'm drawn back to the 1990s for some reason. At the time, I was in high school and college and so it was quite formative. I was also knee deep in my video store days (which I talk about a lot here - forgive me) so the movies of the  90s were absolutely inescapable to me. I remember that I was involved with my first girlfriend the summer that ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES was in theaters and that annoying Bryan Adams song was playing on the radio in a near 24-hour loop. Kevin Costner was the biggest star in Hollywood and hadn't even started to wane in popularity. This is all pre-WATERWORLD and THE POSTMAN though, before audiences started turning heir backs on him. In retrospect (and even now), it is quite easy to see why Costner was so popular. He had the looks and charisma of one of the great actors. He had charm for miles and could also play drama. He was one of the last big stars that ever came out of Hollywood. When his star started to fade slightly, I think the industry was beginning to feel the early rumblings of the "tent-pole takeover" we are in the midst of now. Costner was a man who functioned well in lots of films, not the least of which were comedies. TIN CUP is one of the nether commercial romantic comedies of the 90s, but Costner could also do the thriller thing. 
NO WAY OUT was a movie I saw after THE UNTOUCHABLES (which I loved ) and before FIELD OF DREAMS - just to give some context. The Coster run of DANCES WITH WOLVES, ROBIN HOOD, JFK and THE BODYGUARD were just peaking over the horizon, but we were all digging Costner in movies already. He played a solid Elliott Ness and went straight to another movie based on an older property. In this case, a great one film noir called THE BIG CLOCK. In that movie, our hero is framed for murder and must absolve himself before his identity as the killer is indicated. Same thing with Costner in NO WAY OUT. I really dug this movie the first time I saw it. I found the "ticking clock" narrative to be extremely suspenseful and effective. I'm not sure I had seen much in the way of Noir and Hitchcock at the time, but I'd like to (pretentiously) think that I was responding subconsciously to the more old-fashioned storytelling underpinnings of the movie. It even opens with some almost Bernard Hermann-y sounding string stabs. Maurice Jarre did the score and it feels a little of its time in terms of instrumentation, but there is certainly some old Hollywood influence there too. It's got splashes of noir all over it. The first scene features Costner smoking a cigarette and sweating it out in a motel room with two tough guys and a microphone. He flashes back to six months earlier so we can see how it was that he ended up in that room. This is a common trope of noir and even some of the great ones (DOUBLE INDEMNITY for example) start like that. While NO WAY OUT isn't as good as THE BIG CLOCK, it is an interesting and compelling update. I didn't see THE BIG CLOCK for a while after this, but I didn't miss the scene of Costner and Sean Young getting it on in a limo while the see-and-say tune "No Way Out" plays on the soundtrack in the original John Farrow directed version of the story, but that's okay. Gene Hackman takes on the Charles Laughton role from the BIG CLOCK here and that works pretty well. It just occurred to me that I would loved to have see a Gene Hackman and Charles Laughton buddy comedy by the way. Alas.
Director Roger Donladson is an interesting gentleman. He started in Australia with some gritty little movies like SMASH PALACE and worked his way up to high profile studio gigs like THE BOUNTY, COCKTAIL, CADILLAC MAN, DANTE'S PEAK, SPECIES and THE BANK JOB. NO WAY OUT is one of his earliest studio projects, but he shows that he is a competent thriller director with it.

Special Features:
-Shout Factory has included an audio commentary with Roger Donaldson here.
NO WAY OUT can be purchased here:
http://amzn.to/1XsmSY5

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