Out of Time (2003)
USA / English
"How do you solve a murder when all the evidence points to you. "A Florida police chief must solve a vicious double homicide before he himself falls under suspicion.
One of the best films of the year -- Denzel strikes again with a powerhouse performance.
I can't remember a really good film noir being made in quite some time.
There may have been a handful of good (or decent) film noirs recently, but
the bad outnumber them by about 100 to 1.
I went into Carl Franklin's "Out of Time" with a certain amount of
interest--I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that it was a crime
thriller/film noir about a guy who gets caught up in some type of crime, but
other than that I really had no idea what the film was like. It hadn't
gotten extremely good reviews (although most of them were at least
positive), and that lowered my expectations a bit. I had finally come to
expect a fairly decent thriller with illogical plot holes and a boring
I was wrong.
With a back-to-back viewing of David Spade's "Dickie Roberts: Former Child
Star" and "Out of Time," there was a nice contrast going, which may explain
why I enjoyed the film so very much. But there's one thing for certain--it's
a lot cleverer than most films of its kind.
Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is running out of time. He's been framed
for murder and has to cover his tracks before the clues start to pile up
against him. And there are a lot of clues pointing not only in his
direction, but directly at him.
Matt is the police chief of a small town in Florida. Nobody suspects him.
But he is sole beneficiary on the female victim's life insurance claim. And
right before she died, Matt took over $400,000 worth of confiscated drug
money and planned to run off with her. Nobody knew they were having an
affair because she was a married woman and they were keeping their romantic
adventures secret. She made Matt her beneficiary after being diagnosed with
cancer--but now she's been discovered dead in a fire with her husband, the
money gone, and all the evidence points--as I said before--to him.
Fortunately, the police officials haven't picked up any traces. Yet. So, in
a frantic race for time, Matt has to cover up all his tracks before the find
The doctor who diagnosed her cancer is gone. The money is gone. Matt's
ex-wife (Eva Mendes) is bent on finding the killer, and sooner or later
she'll figure out that Matt was having an affair, that he had a motive to
kill (over 1,000,000 dollars), etc. But will she find out the real truth:
That he is innocent?
This stuff's been done before; even I'll admit that. But this time it's
great. Everything about this movie works, from the style (with all the vivid
brightness of Florida portrayed in films such as "Scarface" or "Get Shorty")
to the acting (Denzel strikes again!) to direction (Carl Franlin brings a
distinct style to the film). From the opening credits I had a big smile on
my face. This was a pleasant twist on film noir.
Admittedly the first half hour is rather slow. I almost came close to giving
the film a negative review. But then the chain of events rolled in like a
one-two punch; fast, furious, and everything you could wish for in a
mystery. And, unlike some films, when you stop to take a look at the plot
twists in "Out of Time"...they actually make sense.
Denzel Washington is one of the best actors in Hollywood; he can lift any
film out of mediocrity, including that underrated supernatural thriller
"Fallen" with John Goodman. He is simply amazing, always able to bring a
sense of realism to his roles, and he does this in "Out of Time"--I never
doubted his role for a minute. That's pretty rare.
I would say that "Out of Time" is one of the best films of the year. It
seems real, with likable characters portrayed by a strong cast, including
John Billinglsey as Chae, Matt's best friend who shows up when he's needed
the most. In retrospect, a lot of these characters seem pretty typical and
routine. But when I was watching the film, it seemed extremely realistic and
convincing. That's always a good sign.
"Out of Time" is rated PG-13 for some sexuality, violence, and language.
(Re-rated from a mild R after a few scene cuts.)
- John Ulmer