Retro Film Review: Out of Time (2003)
Florida is slowly becoming the most popular film noir setting in contemporary Hollywood. Another example of that trend could be found in Out of Time, 2003 film directed by Carl Franklin.
The plot is set in sleepy Miami suburb where local police chief Matthias Lee Whitlock (played by Denzel Washington) enjoys a good life - crime rate is low, citizens love him and the only important event of his career was a major drug bust that left a significant sum of impounded money in his police evidence room. His private life, however, leaves something to be desired. His wife Alex (played by Eva Mendes) was too ambitious and left him for the sake of homicide detective career in Miami. Matthias sought comfort in the arms of Ann Merai Harrison (played by Sanaa Lathan), his high school sweetheart whose husband Chris (played by Dean Cain), a disgruntled ex-football player, seems to have a taste for beating her. Ann's marital problems are apparently nothing compared to her health - she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Matthias, in despair, tries to save her by stealing the money from evidence room in pay for Ann's experimental treatment. But things aren't always what they seem and Matthias soon finds himself investigating a grisly double murder with all evidence pointing at him as the perpetrator.
After failing to properly tackle complicated issues of military justice in his previous film High Crimes, Franklin goes to familiar genre territory described in David Collard's script for Out of Time. Convoluted plot doesn't seem particularly original and even those viewers who didn't watch many film noirs will have a clear picture of all the film's twists long time before they happen. Franklin seems to be aware that the audience knows what is going to happen. So, the real issue of the film is how the plot progresses to its predictable point. Franklin keeps the audience's attention with a series of brilliantly directed scenes, especially those in which the protagonist tries to suppress incriminating evidence. Because of that, Out of Time successfully deals both with script and content limitations - even the accustomed to much saucier scenes in Florida noir films like Body Heat will hardly notice film's otherwise debilitating PG-13 rating. The cast is also very good, although Denzel Washington - always dependable in the role of lawman in difficult situations - gets overshadowed by Peter Billingsley who plays town's medical examiner, his best friend and film's very effective "comic relief". Out of Time is not going to remain in viewers' memories for long, but while it does it will remain as an enjoyable experience.
RATING: 6/10 (++)
(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.films.reviews on February 16th 2005)
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