Out of Time (2003) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, and sexual situations
Running Time: 104 min.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, John Billingsley, Robert Baker, Alex Carter
Director: Carl Franklin
Screenplay: David Collard
With the exception of Training Day, it's generally a safe bet to avoid any vehicle in which Denzel Washington stars as a police officer. They usually rank as marginal entertainment (The Mighty Quinn, Devil in a Blue Dress) or just plain old bad films (Ricochet, Virtuosity, Fallen, The Bone Collector). You could just as well toss in The Siege, since he played an FBI agent in that one...close enough. It's amazing that an actor of his stature and caliber either doesn't have many good action scripts coming his way, or he just has no clue how to pick them. Well, now you can add Out of Time to his impressive list of law enforcement misfires, a slick looking, but very predictable action drama, where much of your entertainment value comes from watching obvious plot points fly by, each more silly than the last, without even a trace of a smirk from anyone in the cast or crew.
Denzel plays Matt Whitlock, the police chief for the lush resort community of Banyan Key, Florida. Currently, he's involved in a love quadrangle, as he is getting a little action from the a former girlfriend, Ann, (Lathan, Brown Sugar) the abused wife of a former star football quarterback, Chris (Cain, Rat Race). Meanwhile, he's technically still married, although he is being pressured by his newly promoted detective wife, Alex (Mendes, 2 Fast 2 Furious), to get a divorce. Ann is diagnosed with cancer, and in an attempt to saver her, Matt confiscates about half a million dollars in drug money evidence for her to use to travel to Europe and pay for an experimental procedure. She then entrusts Matt to be the beneficiary of her million dollar life insurance. Shortly after, Ann's house burns down, ostensibly killing her and Chris inside, and when it is revealed to be arson, all signs now point to Matt as the main suspect. Now he must clear his name, get the culprits, and try to get the money back before the DEA finds out it is gone.
Carl Franklin (High Crimes, One False Move) directs Denzel for a second time, after the aforementioned Devil in a Blue Dress, and the results are wildly mixed. On the one hand, it's a good looking film, with scenic cinematography by Theo van de Sande (Blade, Cruel Intentions) and a nice Caribbean flavored score by veteran Graeme Revell (The Negotiator, Daredevil). It's a good looking cast as well, although Washington is the only actor one might consider above par in the production.
Where Out of Time stumbles resides purely in the lackluster script by David Collard, his first, although he has done some writing for television's, "The Family Guy". Predictability is one thing that kills most thrillers, and between Collard's plot and Franklins "tells", many savvy viewers will probably be able to map out the rest of the film before the 30-minute mark is up. There are some attempts at twists, but they are just as farfetched as the rest, and some of the plot points require being stupid or inebriated to swallow. The biggest "Oh, come on!" moment comes when you find out that the arson victims Ann and Chris worked in a dentist's office and morgue, respectively. If you can't put two and two together here, you probably couldn't put two and two together, literally.
Out of Time is basically just a poor man's No Way Out (or The Big Clock), except with bad plotting and ridiculous logic. The fact that it's just passable bad entertainment is only attributed to Denzel's ability to deliver a believable performance, regardless of how implausible everything around him is. Expect the expected, and maybe you can be modestly entertained, even if it's just to pick this one apart. Out of Time is about as generic as its title, and another disposable pure entertainment film for Washington. Time to hang up the badge, Denzel.
©2004 Vince Leo