a critiQal film review Nick of Time (1995)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: Gene Watson (Depp) has just stepped off the train with his daughter when he is approached by strangers who flash badges at him, separate him from his daughter, and lead him to a van parked just outside. But these aren't cops - instead, Gene learns he has been randomly chosen and given a choice: either assassinate the Governor of California in 1 hour and 16 minutes - or his daughter dies.

596 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 58s)
  • ...provides 89 minutes of real-time suspenseful action.

Due to A&E’s 24 hour marathon of “24” (TV), I am now hooked on the show. Since that show takes place in real time, it reminded me quite a bit of a film I’d seen years ago called Nick of Time, starring Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken. Wanting another fix of real-time events, I decided to rent the movie at the local Blockbuster® when they were out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) and The Longest Yard (2005).

Since Heather had never seen the film before, she could benefit from my real-time crave as much as I did. Soon, we were settling in to watch the film. Would Nick of Time be as good as I remembered, or had time glossed over the bad parts in my mind?

Johnny Depp seems to be able to slip right into any character he portrays. Whether it be a wild (yet kindhearted) man with scissors for hands (Edward Scissorhands), or a swashbuckling pirate (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)), he takes over any role and transforms it into a spectacular creation. While he hasn’t yet quite achieved that mastery of his craft by the time he filmed Nick of Time, he has improved on the jock/boyfriend image of his introductory film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Christopher Walken, looking a little goofy with a thin little mustache adorning his upper lip, does a decent job in the film as well. He isn’t up to the excellence he exhibited in Pulp Fiction (1994) and True Romance (1993), but he does manage to do a decent job nonetheless. Charles S. Dutton also puts in an appearance as a shoe-shiner, bringing another talent into the mix.

The concept of real-time storytelling seems much more complicated for a writer to plot out. After all, the filmmakers will have to come up with 86 minutes of action, without being able to skip ahead to the next day,etc. as a lot of movies do on a regular basis. Even “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations” (TV), the most popular show on television, skips around in time, skimming through the lab work so the case is wrapped up by the end of the hour.

The plot for a real-time story needs to be like any other: full of suspenseful twists and turns that will keep the viewer riveted. But, the fact they all have to happen within the course of such a short span of time makes it more difficult to create. Nick of Time does a great job of sticking to it’s real-time premise, and delivers enough twists and turns to keep the audience hooked until the end.

Nick of Time is the first (and only) movie I’ve seen that plays out events in real-time. It’s got a great premise, famous actors working their way to perfection, and a fast pace that will keep the attention of it’s audience right up until the end. Sure, it’s not perfect: Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken haven’t yet reached the perfection they display now, and some scenes seem a little bit far-fetched, but it’s positives far outweigh any of the negatives of the film.

For you fans of “24” (TV), go on out and rent Nick of Time for your real-time fix while you wait for the new season. You’ll be glad you did. Even if you aren’t a fan of “24” (TV) (all 2 of you out there), Nick of Time will provide 89 minutes of suspenseful action in a format you don’t see much on the big screen.

Now if only Nick of Time would come out on Special Edition DVD, since this version only contains the theatrical trailer. Then it would truly be worth owning.

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