Time for a film from a very long time ago. The title No Way Out has apparently been used quite a few times before and I can see why since it’s one of those titles where you can do a lot with it. I can see a bunch of them being literal but in this case I’d say it’s being more metaphorical like there’s no way out of the system.
The film starts by introducing us to Dr. Luther who has been gradually rising up the ranks in the medical profession. He technically has enough experience to be a doctor on his own by now but wants to stay under his mentor Dan for a while more. In part it’s because he still lacks confidence but it’s also in part because he has doubts that people will actually accept him. Discrimination was quite large there and Luther had to deal with it every day. His boss Dan helped to shield him from this to an extent but going off on his own could be difficult.
Well, his stay won’t be easy either as two criminals are brought in after getting shot. Luther tries to save one of them but the operation doesn’t go well and he ends up dying. The guy’s brother Ray believes that Luther did this on purpose and now has made it his life’s mission to destroy Luther. He’ll use every resource at his disposal from other family members to the entire gang at large. Luther will have to be very careful now as doom is around every corner.
A lot of the film is really about Luther trying to convince Ray that he didn’t murder the guy and the operation was correct. Unfortunately his boss Dan isn’t even fully convinced that the operation was needed which shakes Luther. For the record, Dan does still defend Luther and has his back the whole time but Luther wants to be sure even if it starts to put a strain on all of his relationships and even puts him in more danger. He even takes a gamble on being arrested to get the test to be done.
He’s definitely a solid lead who really wants to be a great doctor. I think this is a cautionary tale on why you sometimes have to know when to stop in trying to seek validation. As long as you know you did the right thing then you don’t need to worry about what the crazy bad guy is saying. Luther keeps his cool for the most part but that random moment where he went crazy at night and even turned on Dan was a bit much. Dan was in his corner for the duration of the movie without ever looking back.
Dan took no small risk in defending Luther at every opportunity. Whether it was behind closed doors in talking with his boss or at the front lines with the patients, Dan was always doing his best to help Luther out. He was just a great guy so that was the only scene that hurt Luther a bit. Not enough to stop him from being a good character or anything but it was disappointing.
As for the villain Ray, well he’s introduced as being an awful character right from the jump. His entire gimmick is that he’s super racist all the time and so from the start you’re not sure if he actually believes any of what he’s saying about Luther. Personally I think he’s just crazy enough where he might but of course that’s not really any kind of consolation. It just means that he is super delusional but as one of the big characters that unfortunately means he is going to be around a lot.
It’s mainly due to Ray that the ending isn’t very satisfying at all. I get the idea behind it and all but to me it’s just over the edge where I wouldn’t be trying all that hard to help out. I don’t think you have to finish the villain off or anything but you don’t have to do much of anything to help out either. It’s an admirable move by Luther so I don’t fault him for it but I would have handled the ending way differently.
There’s a bit of a subplot with Edie who gets roped into this and gets tricked by Ray into visiting the old gang and getting stuck there. I didn’t see much of a point to her character because ultimately she is not able to help Luther out by convincing Ray to let them dissect the body, nor is she able to do anything in stopping the gang. So it felt like there was no real contribution that she was able to make to the plot. She was sort of just around and I guess at least by the end she seemed to finally be free of the gang once and for all.
This is one film where the whole climax only happens because everyone suddenly forgets how to deal with prisoners though. So keep in mind that the cops are watching over a guy with serious gang ties who was in a shootout and has made it very clear that he wants to destroy Luther. The cop has himself handcuffed to the prisoner…why? It’s way more efficient to tie up both of the guy’s arms with the handcuffs. I don’t care that his leg wasn’t feeling so good, just cuff him normally. Well, the cop allows Ray to call in a friend and then stays behind as everyone else leaves the room. Now you just have the one guard with Ray and this “friend.”
Naturally the guard gets bumped off and Ray escapes but the whole situation felt incredibly contrived. Cmon now, you can’t convince me that the police would be this naive here. I was shaking my head as this all went down because it made no sense. Maybe you could try to convince me that this could happen if he was a nonviolent criminal or something but he was arrested as a fairly dangerous target from the jump. There should have been way more precautions.
One thing I did like though was how for once everyone didn’t just wait until the mob showed up to take everyone down. Instead the mob was jumped as the neighborhood they had been terrorizing for so long decided to get together and get the jump on them. I thought that was a nice change of pace because I was really not expecting that. It was great to see in part because of how unexpected it was but also because you have to defend yourself. At this point it was clear that the cops weren’t going to make it in time and nobody else was going to help so they had to make a move.
Overall, No Way Out is a very tense film to be sure. It does a good job of always maintaining that dangerous atmosphere where you don’t know how Luther’s going to get out of this one in one piece. The writing can also be solid but at the end of the day Ray is really annoying as the villain. The plot with Edie was also a big waste. She was around the gangsters before so she should have known better than to get involved again. There were so many ways to get around the situation or to handle it better and I’m skeptical that she would have gotten herself into so much trouble like this. Throw in the moment with Ray getting free and there were just too many moments like that. Ultimately I wouldn’t say the film is strong enough to hold its own with a lot of the classic titles and it’s not all that fun for a lot of its run. Without a satisfying ending to cap things off, I wouldn’t recommend this title.