|Volume XXIX Issue 8||October 9, 2003|
Denzel Washington hits the mark just in
Sean Hennen - Reporter
Seventy years ago an unknown British director with a peculiar last name and a quirky personality came to Hollywood and completely reinvented several genres of film, particularly mysteries and thrillers. During the near half-century that Alfred Hitchcock spent making films, his camera captured some of the most memorable images ever to grace the silver screen.
Since then, countless writers, directors and production teams have spent millions of hours and billions of dollars to make movies half as good as Hitchcock’s. Some films, such as "What Lies Beneath," merely pay homage to the indelible nostalgia surrounding the legendary director. Others, like "Memento," try to take their respective genres in new directions that would make Hitch proud.
"Out of Time" succeeds at the former of the two while never even trying to accomplish the latter. This is familiar territory being explored with a great deal of style and skill. Without offering anything particularly fresh or innovative, "Out of Time" does hold your attention with a tight script, skilled direction and an overly talented cast.
Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is the chief of police in Banyan Key - a sleepy, backwater town on the Gulf Coast in Florida. The plot is set in motion as Whitlock carries on a steamy affair with high school sweetheart Ann (Sanaa Lathan) whilst in the middle of an amicable divorce from estranged wife Alex (Eva Mendes), a recently promoted homicide detective.
Things get messy when Whitlock has a number of encounters with Ann’s husband, a violent ex-quarterback (Dean Cain) and finds out Ann is dying of cancer. When Ann makes Whitlock the beneficiary of her $1 million dollar life insurance policy, he decides to steal nearly $500,000 in confiscated drug money from the police station evidence locker to help her pay for a series of operations.
Things go from bad to worse when Ann’s house goes up in flames, the bodies of she and her husband are found murdered, Alex is assigned to the case and the DEA suddenly decides they want that half million. If this all sounds obscenely complicated, that’s because it is. But therein is the fun of a movie like "Out of Time."
Hitchcock loved the "man wrongly accused" plotline and stretched it to its every creative limit. He would definitely appreciate a film like "Out of Time" that makes up for its lack of originality by piling on the generic. It works to a point, as long as audiences are willing to totally suspend their disbelief.
Luckily, a respectable cast is able to work with a competent script while being filmed by a stylish and knowledgeable director. Carl Franklin covered this subject with 1995’s "Devil in a Blue Dress" and continues to hone his skill at noir with "Out of Time." A great eye for camera angles is a blessing in a film like this.
Leading man Denzel Washington is perpetually likable, even when in the midst of seemingly criminal actions, and he is ably helped by a stellar supporting cast. Mendes was eye-candy in this summer’s "2 Fast 2 Furious," but proves here that she has talent to back up her looks. Lathan makes the best of her tricky role that is constantly in question as the plot reaches its conclusion.
Audiences will enjoy "Out of Time" based on the fact that the film does not necessarily break new ground, but instead to pull together a great collection of concepts and polish them into something highly entertaining. It’s a great ride for those who appreciate the familiar.
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