American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"No Way Out" is one of those thrillers like "Jagged Edge," where the plot gives us a great deal of information, but the more we know, the less we understand. It's like a terrifying jigsaw puzzle. And because the story is so tightly wound and the performances are so good, I found myself really caring about the characters. That's the test of a good thriller: when you stop thinking about the mechanics of the plot and start caring about the people.
The movie begins with the same basic situation that was always one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorites: An innocent man stands wrongly accused of a crime, and all the evidence seems to point right back to him. In "No Way Out," there are a couple of neat twists. One is when the innocent man is placed in charge of the investigation of the crime.
The man is played by Kevin Costner in a performance I found a lot more complex and interesting than his work in "The Untouchables." He plays a career Navy man who is assigned to the personal staff of the secretary of defense (Gene Hackman). Hackman and his devoted assistant (Will Patton) want Costner to handle some sensitive assignments for them involving the secretary's pet defense projects.
All of those details are handled in the first few minutes, and then the movie springs a genuine erotic surprise. Costner goes to a diplomatic reception to meet Hackman. There is a beautiful young woman at the party. Their eyes meet. The chemistry is right. They leave almost immediately, and the woman throws herself at Costner in hungry passion.