Eye For Film >> Movies >> Out Of Time (2003) Film Review
Denzel Washington seldom puts a foot wrong. Any man that can win two Oscars 13 years apart, without a "comeback"between them, is a pretty special commodity in Tinseltown and his sure footing is illustrated in this latest offering by Carl Franklin.
The plot, although clever, is nothing original. It's easy to feel that you have seen it all before, but Washington's performance raises the calibre above its peers.
I surprised myself by really enjoying Out Of Time, despite the numerous twists in the plot. In fact, it was the way the actors carried off these implausibilities that made it work.
Washington plays Matt Whitlock, a small town cop indulging in a spot of extra marital relations with his childhood sweetheart Ann (Sanaa Lathan), who is married to Chris (Dean Cain), a wife-beating quarterback. When she finds out she is suffering from cancer, Matt makes the morally questionable decision to "loan" her $400,000 evidence money from a drug case to pay for her treatment. She returns the favour by naming him sole beneficiary in her life insurance policy. But then she disappears. And so does the loot. Next thing Matt knows, Ann and Chris's bodies are found charcoaled and he is down a girlfriend and $400,000 and up a murder case, with himself as the key suspect.
So what would any self respecting police chief do? Attempt to hide his tracks, of course, whilst trying to work out who has framed him. He evades suspicion, with the help of his trusty sidekick, Chae (superb John Billingsley). And to add to the fun, the chief investigator in Ann's murder case is Matt's estranged wife Alex (sizzling Eva Mendes).
The first half hour is pretty slow, as the main plot strands are set up. However, yet again, it is a credit to the actors that they manage to hold your attention until the real action kicks in. Washington's portrayal of a good guy stuck in an ever worsening situation is brilliant and although the film is quite obviously more about the story than the characters, he creates an Everyman that audiences can relate to - trying to do the right thing, always in the wrong way.
Billingsley adds a perfect humorous element with his drunken, bumbling, somehow savvy medical examiner - a drunk in charge of important medical records? Implausibility strikes again - and Mendes, aside from looking amazing, manages to maintain her sassy intelligence, whilst having the wool pulled over her eyes by Washington.
The main issue I had with the film was the absence of motive. While you are left to assume that getting a hold of this tidy sum is the only incentive for duping Whitlock, the narrative fails to explain why such lengths are taken to frame him as a murder suspect. Why are they so eager to exact revenge on him? Even at the end, when loose ends are neatly tied, Franklin doesn't seem to think that motivation is one of the knots that needs to be unravelled. The saccharine sweet finale makes the movie's conclusion even more of a let down.
Set in the Florida Keys and filmed mostly on location, Out Of Time looks beautiful. The obvious heat adds to a sexy, moody feel and, combined with a brilliant soundtrack, it is almost worth watching for the ambience alone.
If you are willing to leave your sense of rationale and plausibility at the door and enjoy a good looking movie, while allowing Franklin to get away with his "too clever for itself" story, then this is the film for you.Reviewed on: 28 Jun 2004