A review of “Out of Time” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for brief sexuality, language, mild violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

 

 

Carl Franklin’s auspicious debut film “One False Move” was a gritty, low-budget crime drama that virtually oozed behind-the-lens talent. “Out of Time” is a gritty, high-budget crime thriller that proves the helmer has still got it.

Banyan Key, Florida police chief Matt Lee Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is living the good life in the land of palms and pastels. He has a great job, a beautiful mistress (Sanaa Lathan as Anne Merai), and a gorgeous and amicable ex-wife (Eva Mendes as Alex) who’s just made detective. Dig a little deeper and all is not gold.  Anne Merai is married to a hyper-jealous and abusive ex-NFL quarterback (Dean Cain), Alex isn’t ex-enough for the pain to have dulled, and the job is about to get seriously complicated.

A tragic double homicide sets Matt on the trail of a ruthless killer, only to find himself the prime suspect as a series of small personal mistakes burgeon into widespread consequences. Cognizant of the appearance of his culpability, Matt is forced to front his own investigation, frantically attempting to stay a step ahead of the force and Alex’s keen detecting skills.

In the grand tradition of Kevin Costner’s “No Way Out”, Matt needs a break, and he needs it stat.  Trust?  Fuggedaboutit.  Matt’s on his own while his life unravels before his very eyes. As one white lie begets another, Matt is compelled to confront the truth, and maybe die trying.

“Time” is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller, steeped in suspense and the kind of hair-raising twists that have gone the way of quick gratification filmmaking.  Tension mounts in leaps and bounds, force-feeding apprehension and dread. The narrative has a very personal feel – after all, who can’t relate to the notion of a small error in judgment segueing into a larger-than-life catastrophe? (Oh what a tangled web we weave…)

Moody, bluesy score and the drowsy lushness of the Gulf Coast barely conceal a sinister element fraught with risk.  Washington is Washington’s naturally fabulous self; his supporting cast keeps pace of the breakneck velocity with professional aplomb. Subtle (and most welcome) comic relief appears in the form of a goofy medical examiner known simply as Chae (John Billingsley). Kudos to Franklin for making a thriller that actually thrills.