Sometimes you have to wonder if certain actors ever sleep. Denzel Washington is one of those, seemingly in a new movie every week. That's certainly not a bad thing as he's one of the best currently in the industry. You just have to wish the guy wouldn't get burned out before his career is over. After his award-winning performance in "Training Day," he took on another great thriller with "Out of Time."
Matt Whitlock (Washington) is stuck a bad situation. As the police chief of a small Florida town, he's having an affair while going through a pending divorce with his wife. He learns his new lover has cancer and is unable to afford treatment. After stealing money the police obtained from a drug raid to help her out, things quickly spiral out of control. The house his lover lived in is burned to ground and he was spotted on the property. His soon-to-be ex takes on the case that puts Matt squarely in the center.
"Out of Time" does a lot right. It takes time early on to build the characters, giving them a little depth to carry the movie on. Almost as if on cue, right at the half-hour mark, it becomes an all out thriller, and a good one at that.
Washington's character is crafty and quick on his feet (maybe even a bit too much so at times) and the idea of putting his ex-wife on the other side gives the movie a basis for most of the tension. The writers build the case slowly until Matt finally can't keep up and has no choice to run. It's always solid and well put together. Plot holes are few in number. Even if you do figure it out (it's not that hard), watching Denzel work his way out of everything that comes up still makes it gripping.
The cast is overly sexy at times and it all seems a bit too obvious and unrealistic, but their performances are excellent. Washington is of course on top of his game (not that he's ever really off); Eva Mendes is believable as both an investigator and an ex-wife, while Sanaa Lathan makes a nice turn in the end. Dean Cain's performance occasionally seems forced, though his role is fairly small.
This isn't a movie that changes the way the thrillers are made. It has a unique premise and runs with it, providing enough thrills to cover the running time. It doesn't try to do anything different to make itself stand out as far as the script is concerned, but when everything combined comes together (photography, performances, direction), it ends up being a great ride well worthy of your entertainment dollar. (**** out of *****)
Things seem shaky for this 2.40:1 widescreen transfer (no pan & scan version is available) at the start. The bright red sunsets show the compression artifacts clearly, backgrounds are filled with noise, and edge enhancement is way too excessive. Once things brighten up a bit and the movie moves into daylight, there are no problems at all. Well, except for more edge enhancement that is. Florida probably looks better here than it does in real life, especially with great color tones. It's a bit hit or miss, but the majority of the film looks fantastic. (****)
Most of the time, the movie is carried by dialogue so this 5.1 track has little time to really work. The soundtrack nicely fills the field and provides a bit of action for the LFE channel. The few action sequences let viewers hear nice separation in the stereo channels. The rear channels mostly just get the day off. It's not a movie to demonstrate a home theater. That's not the fault of either the movie or the mix. You hear every line of dialogue and that's the most important part. (***)
Extras are sparse and worse, what's here isn't very useful. A basic commentary from director Carl Franklin is about the best feature here. A 12-minute, very simple behind-the-scenes look is uninteresting and offers little of value. Actually, since it's all done in 4:3, the movie clips do show just how butchered this movie would look in pan & scan. That has to count for something.
Character profiles are 5 brief looks at the characters, their purpose, and parting thoughts. Various interviews tell the necessary information. Five screen test clips are somewhat interesting, three from Lathan and two from Cain. They're short, but this is a relatively rare feature. Trailers and an image gallery finish everything off. (**)
Unfortunately, "Out of Time" was pretty much lost in theaters. It didn't even make back it's estimated budget. On DVD, it hit the bargain bins pretty fast. At the going price of less than $10 at most mass retailers, this should be a movie in your collection.