a critiQal film review Out of Time (2003)

Plot: Matt Lee Whitlock (Washington) is the chief of police of the small town of Banyan Key, Florida. He's fooling around with Chris Harrison's (Cain) wife, Ann Merai (Lathan). When Ann is diagnosed with cancer, Matt steals evidence money and gives it to her. The next thing he knows, the Harrison's house has burned to the ground and his soon to be ex-wife Alex (Mendes) is the lead detective on the case.

Reviewed
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  • ...Sanaa Lathan is the standout in this Denzel pic that brings a palpatable feeling of Miami heat with it.

I’d seen a preview for Out of Time a couple of months back. It looked okay, but since I’m not a big Denzel fan, it wasn’t really on a top priority to see for me.

I pretty much forgot about it, until I was in my local Blockbuster® the other day, and saw that they had run out of copies of the film. Since it was “guaranteed to be there”, I figured this would be a perfect chance for me to see the movie for free. I picked up my free rental card, and a week later came back and rented Out of Time.

With low expectations (and no money shelled out) I sat back to watch the film. Would it fail to meet even my incredibly low expectations, or would I be pleasantly surprised?

The cast all give surprisingly good performances. Denzel, who isn’t on my favorite actors list (after making ho-hum films such as Virtuosity, The Bone Collector and The Pelican Brief) showcases the qualities I do like about his acting (as shown in Fallen (1998) and Crimson Tide) in this film.

His acting seems to rely on what the director can bring out of him, rather than any innate sense he has. Luckily, it seems that Carl Franklin is one of those directors who is able to pull a decent performance out of him. Denzel still falters occasionally, and really seems to be at his best when frantic – which he is for most of the film.

The supporting cast really make up for any misfires in Denzel’s acting with their excellent performances, especially Sanaa Lathan. Sanaa really outshines the other performers in the film, Denzel included, and her performance is really what draws you into the storyline. Expect to see big things from her in the future.

Dean Cain (Superman from “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (TV)), sporting a goatee, also turns in a decent performance as Ann Merai’s unlikable husband. He brings his sinister side out (something we’ve never seen from him before) and shows that he has more of a range than we thought he did.

Eva Mendes is somewhat ill used in the film and her lack of character development detracts from her performance, but she does her best with what she has.

Out of Time‘s plot seems vaguely familiar, and focuses on a guy doing the wrong things for the right reasons. The lead up is a bit slow, and doesn’t really pick up until after our lead character has committed the crime. The rest of the movie the lead character spends trying to cover up his tracks.

This is where Out of Time really starts to shine. The director does an excellent job of building up the tension with a lot of narrow escapes from discovery for the leading character, and keeps the tension level high until the end of the film. There are a couple of twists and turns which are somewhat predictable, but that high tension factor keeps the viewer tuned in regardless.

The score of Out of Time really aids in creating the important tension. While somewhat reminiscent of Get Shorty (1995), the score does have a unique flavor all it’s own, and really helps blend the movie together as well as keeping the tension high. The jazzy sounds seem to convey the heat and feel that this Florida set movie is going for. Good job, Graeme Revell.

While Out of Time is a bit slow in the beginning, the build up is worth the wait. With an outstanding performance by Sanaa Lathan, as well as decent performances by Denzel, Dean Cain and Eva Mendes, not to mention a somewhat intriguing plot and a perfect score, Out of Time turns out surprisingly well over all.

Is Out of Time worth owning? Iffy…but definitely worth the rental – even if you do have to shell out a couple of bucks for it.

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