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Out of Time (2003)
Crime,Drama,Thriller
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.
James Murtaugh Dr. Frieland
Nora Dunn Dr. Donovan
Terry Loughlin Agent Stark
Antoni Corone Deputy Baste
Alex Carter Cabot
Robert Baker Tony Dalton
John Billingsley Chae
Dean Cain Chris Harrison
Sanaa Lathan Ann Merai Harrison
Eva Mendes Alex Diaz Whitlock
Denzel Washington Matthias Lee Whitlock
Peggy Sheffield Judy Anderson
Evelyn Brooks Judy's Mom
Eric Hissom Hotel Clerk
Tom Hillmann Living Gift Salesman (as Tom Hilmann)
Parris Buckner Dr. Shider
Arian Waring Ash Dental Assistant (as Arian Ash)
Mike Pniewski Agent White
Veryl Jones Agent Fetzer (as Veryl E. Jones)
Tim Ware Fire Chief
Jesse Beaton Ramona (as Jesse B'Franklin)
Ed Amatrudo Arson Investigator (as Edward Amatrudo)
Neil Brown Jr. Morgue Attendant
Elena Maria Garcia Bartender
David J. Negron Sketch Artist (as David Negron)
O.L. Duke Detective Bronze
Sharlene Garcia Sharlene
Ron Madoff Detective (as Ronald J. Madoff)
Steve Raulerson Man Serving Divorce Papers
Suzanne Grant Screaming Woman
Dottie Healy Woman in Lobby (as Dorothy A. Healy)
Sandra Binkley Driver (uncredited)
Deborah Smith Ford Mother (uncredited)
Natalie McNeil Beach Partier (uncredited)
Rick Michaels Arson Investigator (uncredited)
Al Quinn Driver (uncredited)
Mario Xavier Driver (uncredited)
Director: Carl Franklin
Producer: Jesse Beaton,Stokely Chaffin,Neal H. Moritz
Writer: David Collard
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 pace.

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 out.

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.)

4/5 stars.

- John Ulmer

Personal
Storage device:DVD
Loan
Movie
Imdb rating: 6.5
Musician: Graeme Revell
Running time: 114 min (Toronto International Film Festival)
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Last modified: 2008-01-02 13:11:42