Out Of Time


Reviewed by: Claire Sawers

Out Of Time
"While the tension remains tight throughout, the action scenes are clumsy and far too contrived."

Chief of police Mathias Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is one helluva unlucky guy. His mistress has just been killed in a suspicious arson attack. He is assigned the job of investigating her death and yet is prime suspect as the murderer of both her and her husband. A witness is prepared to testify that she saw Whitlock at the scene of the crime hours before the house went up in flames. He has no alibi and the cops have just found out about the money he stole. To top it off, his ex-wife has just filed for divorce.

If you can suspend your disbelief from the rafters, then this is a watchable suspense thriller, heavy on the twists, easy on the details, with some fairly solid performances all round.

Copy picture

Teaming up with Devil In A Blue Dress director Carl Franklin again, Washington was obviously hoping for another moody, atmospheric film-noir feel to the plot and, in the opening scenes, that is exactly what we assume we are going to get. Graeme Revell's superb score mixes lazy jazz melodies and salsa rhythms as we watch pelicans flying over the Florida coastline.

Whitlock, in police officer's uniform, makes a house call at the home of beautiful Ann Merai (Sanaa Lathan), who is home alone in her wooden shack under the palm trees, glistening with sweat, wearing a barely-there outfit. She begins reporting a crime, but it soon becomes obvious that she has a thing for the man in uniform. In the steamy mock rape that ensues, where there is more electricity between Washington and Lathan than in a Florida lightning storm, it seems Franklin has something grown-up and slightly sinister up his sleeve.

In fact, he doesn't. The first half is certainly promising. The premise seems good; Whitlock is an otherwise clean-living guy, respected by his colleagues and friends, but prepared to lay all of that on the line for the woman he is having an affair with. When Ann reveals that she is terminally ill, he steals a huge amount of money, held in the police station after a drugs seize, and gives it to her to fund medical treatment. When she is found burned to death later that evening, it seems there has been some double crossing going on.

The second half of the film sees Whitlock dashing about frantically, trying to solve the murder before the rest of the homicide detectives. While the tension remains tight throughout, the action scenes are clumsy and far too contrived.

Washington does a good job of playing the not-so-good guy, while Ann's slimy husband Chris is played excellently by the normally squeaky clean Dean Cain (aka Clark Kent, aka Superman).

It may not be original, or even very well thought out - the ending is sickeningly soppy - but if you ignore little details like credibility and let yourself be swept along for the ride, this is fast paced fun, with the odd thrill thrown in along the way.

Reviewed on: 24 Dec 2003
Share this with others on...
Out Of Time packshot
Small town Florida police chief finds himself the prime suspect in a double homicide.
Amazon link

Read more Out Of Time reviews:

The Hoodler ***1/2
Keith Hennessey Brown **1/2

Director: Carl Franklin

Writer: David Collard

Starring: Denzel Washington, Eva Mendez, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, John Billingsley, Robert Baker, Alex Carter, Antoni Corone

Year: 2003

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Double Indemnity
One False Move