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Out of Time is directed by Carl Franklin and written by David Collard.
It stars Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain and
John Billingsley. Music is by Graeme Revell and cinematography by Theo
Van de Sande.
Matthias Whitlock (Washington) is chief of police in little Banyan Key, Florida. Respected for his work and basically honest in the line of duty. Away from work, however, his marriage to Alex (Mendes) has failed, he's having an affair with an abused wife and he likes a little drink on duty. So when his lover Anne Harrison (Lathan) springs on him the shocking news that she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, it naturally shakes his world. But this news is merely the start of something bigger, for pretty soon Matt will be in the unusual situation of having to stay one step of his own kind or face dire consequences.
It's a film proudly wearing a badge of homage to film noir of the 40s. In fact it very much plays out as a contemporary riff on John Farrow's excellent Ray Milland starrer of 1948, The Big Clock. But that's fine, especially when you have some knowing craft in front and behind the camera in the shape of Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress) and Washington (take your pick here really!). Yet as great as Franklin and Washington's work is, they all owe a debt to Collard's screenplay. Inventive in how it plays out as a plot, with it's many tight situations laid down for Washington's duped law enforcer to try and get out of, the screenplay has a knack for deft humour, often sly, which is something that even some of the hardest of noirs from the golden era are tinted with. The secret is being able to blend the humour with quality moments of suspense, and this picture manages to do that with some interest.
Film also benefits greatly from the tight atmosphere created by photographer de Sande. Sweaty Florida in daylight doesn't cry out as being a good starting point for an offshoot of film noir (real Florida locations were thankfully used), but the scenic beauty is never realised during the drama sequences, colours are toned down, even for a stunning red sky, and this perfectly becomes at one with a near frantic Washington as the tricksters of Banyan Key start to close in on him. It's nice too see, also, interracial couples forming the core of the story, while the dominance of sexuality is firmly given a shrewd work over by director and writer. There's good thought gone in to making this, enough to steer it away from charges of just being a faux neo-noir production.
Problems? Yes, a few. Inevitability of outcome is hard to shake off whilst viewing it, especially for those well versed in the genre (sub-genre). Clichés and contrivances are stacked up like a pile of cop thriller 101 books, and Franklin goes smug (daft) by dropping in a couple of slow frame sequences that the film clearly didn't need. While the big showdown in the finale lacks a gut punch. But this is a good viewing, sexy at times and always eye catching, it also pleasingly chooses perky dialogue over action to make its dramatic point. The cast around Washington enhance the quality: Lathan in the tricky role shows a number of layered gears, Cain is imposing as a bully boy husband (where did this Cain go?) and Billingsley almost sneaks in and steals the movie as the loyal and stoic comedy side-kick.
So pesky flaws aside, this is a good recommendation as a night in movie for those with a kink for contemporary neo-noir. 7/10
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal
Instead*Avoid At All Costs
Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is the immoral police chief of a small coastal town in Florida.He is having a sleazy affair with Ann Marai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan),a dental nurse and the wife of fellow police officer and rival Chris (Dean Cain),who mistreats her mentally and physically.One day,posing as her brother,he and Ann Marai pay a visit to the doctors to pick up some blood test results.It is here they are dealt the shocking blow that Ann Marai has an incurable form of cancer and has roughly only six months to live.Ann Marai wakes up to the hopelessness of her situation,but Whitlock clings on to hope in the shape of some treatment in a foreign country.It's going to cost a fair bit though,and money doesn't seem to be readily available.Desperate for cash,Whitlock steals a small fortune seized from a drug bust and puts it forward.Then,the next morning everything goes pear shaped when both Ann Marai and Chris are killed in an apparent arson attack.Aside from losing the woman he loved,Whitlock must now also contend with the mounting evidence putting him in the frame,especially when a nearby elderly neighbour (Evelyn Brooks) points him out as a suspect and a homicide squad,headed by his wife Alex (Eva Mendes) find evidence that suggests he was the new benificerary of Ann Marai's will.
This is the second pairing of Washington and director Carl Franklin since the film noir Devil in a Blue Dress,nine years ago in 1995.The films are very similar in substance and style,and are conveyed in a very similar way.Washington,though not turning in the best performance of his career,carries the film fairly engagingly,and is given good support in the shape of Lathan,Cain and Mendes.Though the performances are perfectly on par,a lot of the film's shortcomings are attributable to director Franklin,who allows the pace to become rather laxed and to lose it's sense of narrative structure in parts.Like many thrillers nowadays,he also allows credibility to be stretched fairly far in certain parts,requiring a rather huge and unreasonable suspension of disbelief from the audience.
He does also,however,really require you to use your brain and pay attention at all times to everything that is being said and inferred,no matter how preposterous it may sometimes be.The film emerges as being as good as you could hope it would be,serving it's purpose as a watchable but ultimately generic Hollywood cookie cutter thriller.***
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Out Of Time" is full of excitement, danger and suspense and although
its rather intricate plot is very familiar in nature, it's totally
gripping from start to finish. Inspiration for the story was obviously
drawn from all those film noirs about a guy who makes a bad decision
which gets him into a fix and then has to race against time to prove
his innocence. The significance to the story of a life insurance policy
is reminiscent of "Double Indemnity" (1944) and the presence of a
hapless man who's involved in an investigation where he knows that all
the evidence is certain to point to his guilt, brings to mind "The Big
Clock" (1948). There's even a scene in a hotel where Denzel Washington
is unable to leave by the main exit because of all the activity in the
foyer and this replicates a very similar situation in "The Big Clock"
where Ray Milland is confronted by the same type of problem.
This movie very successfully combines its themes of adultery, larceny and murder with action sequences, amusing plot twists and a good deal of humour to produce some terrific entertainment. The photography and direction are top class and the locations used contribute greatly to the sultry atmosphere of the whole piece.
Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is the Chief of Police in the small town of Banyan Key, Florida. His wife is in the process of divorcing him and he's involved in a passionate affair with Ann Merai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan) who used to be his childhood sweetheart. She's married to Chris (Dean Cain) a violent ex-pro football player who frequently beats her but also conveniently works in the evenings as a security guard.
Ann asks Matt to accompany her when she visits her doctor who tells her that she's terminally ill with cancer and only has a few months to live. The only possibility of a better outcome is if she's able to undergo some expensive experimental therapies which are only available in Switzerland. As Ann is in no position to afford this option, Matt decides to let her have $485,000 of drugs money which is kept in his office safe to be used at some future date as evidence in a trial and in return, Ann makes Matt the sole beneficiary of a life insurance policy which is due to pay out $1,000,000 in the event of her death.
A little while later, Ann's house burns down, two charred bodies are found inside and the money's gone. Tests indicate that the fire was started deliberately and so an investigation is set up to discover who was responsible for the double homicide. This puts Matt in a real tight spot because he knows that he'll become the main suspect if it comes to light that he is the sole beneficiary of her insurance policy. Just to make matters worse, there's a neighbour who reports that she saw him outside Ann's house on the night of the fire, his estranged wife Alex (Eva Mendes) is the homicide detective assigned to the case and the DEA suddenly demand the drugs money which is needed urgently to be entered as evidence in an important trial that they're prosecuting.
Denzel Washington is excellent as the fall guy who has to suppress the evidence he doesn't want to be uncovered whilst also trying to hunt down the real culprits before it's too late. This involves him in some exciting chases, a dangerous struggle on a hotel balcony and some tense situations such as when he intercepts the records of Ann's telephone calls so that he can delete the entries that relate to his calls before Alex scrutinizes the documents. Despite the things that he does wrong, Matt remains a sympathetic character throughout. Washington is naturally charismatic and handles all the aspects of his role with supreme skill and conviction.
There are also some good supporting performances with Dean Cain being impressively menacing and John Billingsley providing both charm and humour as Matt's sidekick.
This reminded me of an old Film Noir style plot.
Was this film a direct copy of any such plot, does anyone know?
Or was it just an 'homage' to that style of 1940s-ish Hollywood plot-line?
It was a good film and kept you thinking. Though had its flaws, as some of the details as why characters were doing what they did could have been filled out.
Denzel Washington nicely underplayed this role, with none of the histrionics a lesser actor could have used to portray the stress he was under (i.e. with his character under such pressure) - bubbling but not boiling over.
And it was good to see Dean Cain in a 'bad guy' role!!
~ Scene by Scene ~
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most thrillers do not play fair. Anybody can put a twist in a piece of fantasy. This one was no exception. Take the shootout with the woman the cop is playing around with: there is no reason to show her all worked up and scared of her brutal husband while the two are alone and waiting for the cop to arrive with the money (forgetting that he hardly has to bring her the money: what is he going to do with it, hand it over to her, and how did he wind up with it after jumping out of the.....)so they go on letting us believe right until the last moment with not a nod to reality that she is the victim of the rather stupid plot to begin with. And another bad movie is made. Oddly the scene where she shoots him is quite good,all kinds of decent levels to it, about the only thing in the film that made watching it worthwhile. In a way I almost thought I was enduring a really bad episode of Miami Vice.
This should have gone straight to DVD. Perhaps it did(?)
It has the look - for the most part it's full of close ups and the camera work is full of fast and slow movements for no obvious reason - all of that will look terrible on the big screen but is pretty much standard for TV. And since there are so many close ups, neither achieves the punch that a more restrained use would provide - and at the same time the film doesn't have to show the lack of production values.
The plot is too predictable and the suspense consists mostly of eerie music that we recognize from countless TV productions also - it does not work.
Only for die-hard fans of the always reliable Denzel Washington.
Too many cliché's, really really bad acting, a really slow start and an end that didn't surprise at all. A terrible casting of Denzel's wife. She looked fine, but her face had no expressions and she wasn't a credible character. Just terrible. Once the film started, I guessed the story-line, surprisingly I was wright. Sometimes I couldn't hold my laugh, because of the things the director had invented. Why the cliché's of the wife that wouldn't believe her husband at first, but at the end she came back to him and they lived happily ever after. Why they break up and why she wanted to divorce is not clear. They just did. Someone who wouldn't guess everything would be fine at last, has no knowledge about movie-cliché's. I thought Denzel wouldn't participate in that kind of movies. Maybe he just wanted to kiss some beautiful girls. If that's the reason, okay, if it isn't...I don't get him.
When I first saw the trailer for "Out of Time," I was pumped to go and see
it when it came out. But then I saw the lame TV spots and decided against
going, and the reviews it received didn't exactly give incentive for seeing
it either. But I still always sort of had the urge to see it, and I finally
got my chance, with decent results.
"Out of Time" is the type of thriller that tries hard, but still comes up short. There were no horrible aspects of this movie, nothing that stands out as being horribly dumb or even horribly unorginal. Yet everything seems mediocre. Denzel's acting was great, but other cast members occasionally seemed a little lost. The direction was also pretty good, but Carl Franklin seemed to have a little trouble pacing the movie, with a couple scenes seeming completely out of place. The music also, by Graeme Revell, was pretty good, but wasn't exemplary or especially dramatic. The cinematography was good, but didn't really stand out, while the screenplay also lagged in places. Plus, the story was original, but not original enough to really keep you guessing.
Yet the movie does create suspense quite well and Denzel saves the movie from complete mediocrity.
Final Grade: B.
I'm pleased to admit that I knew nothing about this movie before I
viewed it, which is actually quite refreshing. Wooed by this, the cast
list and the tag-line 'How do you solve a murder when all the evidence
points to you?' (yes, even we hardboiled cynics can fall for such
things) I settled down in front of my TV with suitable munchies and a
bottle of wine (an Australian Semillon Chardonnay called 'Hair of the
Dingo', which I thoroughly recommend by the way) and waited to be
Eventually, after a way too lengthy exposition (thank God I had the wine), the movie starts to, well, move. Suddenly I was on familiar territory: There's this Florida Police Chief (Washington) who, unbeknownst to his colleagues, has been having rumpy-pumpy (that's quite a clean euphemism in the UK by the way so if I've offended anyone I apologise) with a married woman. She, and her husband, suddenly turn up dead in their burned out house and every bit of circumstantial evidence is pointing to him as prime suspect. At the crime scene he never mentions that he knows the victims, yet it very soon transpires that an eye witness has spotted him outside the house before it was torched; his cell phone number features prominently on the girl's phone bill; he's the new beneficiary of her $1,000,000 insurance policy, and, worse still, he's even borrowed evidence money in his charge to help his girl get cancer treatment, money which is now missing, and the feds are on their way to collect it. As the worst day in his life progresses his colleagues, led by his estranged wife, who's a detective (could it get any worse? Yes it does), are getting closer and closer to solving the case and putting him behind bars, while he is desperately trying to keep one step ahead of them by intercepting phone calls, concealing evidence etc., at the same time conducting his own investigation in an attempt to cover his tracks and clear his name.
I say familiar territory because it's basically a reworking of Costner and Hackman's 1987 NO WAY OUT scenario, which was itself a remake of 1948's THE BIG CLOCK with Ray Milland and Charles Laughton, and, once you accept the implausibility of the situation and the stupidity of Washington's character, it's not half bad, and though it has a few twists I didn't anticipate, the predictable ending is now a little clichéd and leaves too many loose ends for my liking.
Denzel Washington acquits himself well as Denzel Washington; a bearded Dean (SUPERMAN) Cain does a great, almost Colin Farrell quality, turn, refreshingly, as a villain; the girls are gorgeous; but the real star is ENTERPRISE's 'Dr. Phlox', the much underrated John Billingsley, as a beer guzzling baseball capped Medical Examiner (imagine an amalgam of Jack Klugman's Quincy and Oscar Madison characters), and the only one in on Washington's predicament. Director Franklin (DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (also with Washington), and HIGH CRIMES) makes great visual use of the exotic and sultry Miami area locales.
Not worth keeping but worth a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A simple thriller in which a woman is used as a piece of bait to get
some drug money from a gullible cop who believes he is in love with
her. The final twist is not what we could have hoped, but it sure is
convincing about the dumbness of cops or even men when they get
infatuated with love. But the interest of the film is essentially in
the hectic chase-escape of one cop after-from another cop who happens
to be his-her wife-husband. One thing is sure: as soon as a woman
appears within his eye-range he loses all rational common sense and
starts seeing butterflies landing on his nose. But it is funny and
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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