No Way Out

No Way Out ★★★★½

Lost another legend, RIP Sidney Poitier! He hit the ground running in this, his debut feature, and never stopped. He doesn't even have top three billing here but it's completely his movie, what a marvelous presence. This is a vicious film, and while it teeters into veering into the territory of saying that both sides are bad (which is the incorrect view), it avoids doing so by not making any judgments and simply telling a rough and gritty story. Poitier's performance is at the heart of this, tormented by the mindless hatred leveled at him as well as his own perfectly reasonable hatred. Every other character is a foil for Poitier, as he navigates being a great doctor for awful people. 

"I gave 'em cigarettes, ok?"
"No!"

The riot scene is phenomenal, and honestly it's hard not to cheer. I like seeing fucking stupid racists get their asses stomped, but that's not the point of the scene. I think the key to why it works is because it places you exactly in the shoes of Dr. Luther Brooks: the bad guys got beat but that means there are terribly wounded people to take care of. The crestfallen look on Richard Widmark's face seals the deal: it's nice to see the wind taken out of a racist's sails. Also, I'm really surprised at the harshness of the script. There's some really rough language, but it's necessary to convey the stakes. Crackerjack picture. It's on the Criterion Channel and I highly recommend checking it out as a celebration of Sidney Poitier's life. 

"You ain't gonna change the world. You got work to do."

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