out of Five
Running time: 114
Well-written, enjoyably tense thriller, smartly directed by Carl Franklin and featuring both a superb performance by Denzel Washington and a cool soundtrack to boot.
After playing Bad Cop in Training Day, Denzel Washington is back to playing Good Cop again, or rather Good Cop Who Makes A Few Mistakes, in this neo-noir thriller, supposedly inspired by noir classic The Big Clock.
Director Redeemed For Previous Crimes Against Film
Out Of Time also re-teams Washington with director Carl Franklin, (with whom he made the excellent Devil In A Blue Dress), proving that, with the right material, Franklin can be a superb thriller director. At any rate, Out Of Time is good enough to completely redeem Franklin for the high crimes of High Crimes a couple of years ago.
Set in sleepy backwater town of Banyan Key, Florida, Out Of Time stars
Denzel Washington as detective Matt Lee Whitlock. In the process of
divorcing his wife (Eva Mendes), he is carrying on an affair with high
school sweetheart Anne Harrison (Sanaa Lathan, from Brown Sugar) under the nose of her abusive husband (a sweaty Dean Cain). However, when Harrison is diagnosed with cancer, Matt decides to “borrow” some drug money in order to help her get the treatment she needs.
So when Harrison and her husband both turn up dead in an arson accident
shortly after he gives her the money, Matt finds himself in the frame for a double murder and has to solve the crime himself, while staying one step ahead of the police investigation being led by – yes! - his ex-wife.
It also doesn’t help that, in addition to his name being on her million dollar life insurance policy and a neighbour witnessing him at the scene of the crime, the Feds also decide they want their drug money back sooner rather than later…
Washington is excellent, playing an innocent man who isn’t entirely
innocent, but remaining both likeable and sympathetic throughout. The jury is still out on the ‘Eva Mendes: Babe du Jour Eye Candy or Decent Actress’ debate, but she acquits herself well here, although it might have been a better film if she’d been a little angrier at Matt. Sanaa Lathan does well with the trickier femme fatale role and there’s also strong support from both Dean Cain and John Billingsley as Matt’s wise-cracking nerdy side-kick.
Genuinely Tense Thriller
There are some great scenes, too, including a particularly nail-biting race against the fax-machine. The only real flaw is that Washington’s notorious dislike of sex scenes means that we get a sex scene between him and Lathaan that’s clearly been filmed as written, except that both actors remain fully clothed throughout – the result is unintentionally laughable, though luckily, it doesn’t spoil the rest of the film.
Out Of Time is a thoroughly enjoyable ‘against the clock’ thriller, of the sort where you’ll have more fun if you strap yourself in and enjoy the ride than if you try and pick holes in the plot.
It’s stylishly directed by Franklin, who maintains a satisfyingly breakneck pace throughout, aided by a superb soundtrack from Graeme Revell. It also has a pleasingly retro opening credits sequence that sets the tone for the film.
In short, Out Of Time is well worth seeing, particularly as decent, well-written, genuinely tense thrillers like this don’t come along all that often. Recommended.