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Out of Time

Starring Denzel Washington; Dean Cain, Sanaa Lathan, Eva Mendes
Screenplay by Dave Collard and David Collard
Directed by Carl Franklin

IN SHORT: As fast paced and frenetic as it is fun. Pretty much a flat out blast of a movie. [Rated PG-13 (for sexual content, violence and some language. 104 minutes]

Out of Time throws so many story ideas and concepts at you, one after another with nary a bit of breathing space, that we feared it would self-immolate just from the friction alone. By the time you start to chuckle and giggle in the criminal investigation turned romantic sex scene which kicks off the film, you will already be in the proper mind set for the fun that follows. A lot of the smooth moves are thanks to Matt Lee Whitlock (Denzel Washington click for StarTalk), Chief of Police of Banyan Key, Florida and in whose safe sits $485,000 cold hard cash. The cash is evidence in a case against an unseen drug-dealing gangster called Scarpetti and must remained locked away until all appeals in that mobster's criminal case have been exhausted. That means years.

Matt's an easy going fellow looking forward to a new life with new love Ann Merai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan). Matt loves Ann, who happens to be saddled with an abusive husband named Chris (Dean Cain). Matt refers to Chris as an ex NFL quarterback, which we suspect is sarcasm, since Chris is a security guard in the local morgue. Matt's no boy scout, by the way. We'll get to his wife in a moment.

More important is the trip Matt takes with Ann to her oncologist. There she is horrified to learn that an old problem has reared its ugly head and that her liver and lungs are, once again, cancer ridden. There pronouncement is terminal, though there are some very radical experimental treatments to be had in Switzerland. Ann doesn't want to hear of them. Matt does and with all that money sitting untouchable in his safe, the law an decides to cross the line.He gives the cash to Ann and sets up a rendezvous for later that night. They'll leave Chris and Florida far behind and find a way to save her life.

Ann, of course, doesn't show. Within hours a propane explosion has destroyed her house and killed both persons inside. Money goes up in smoke, too. Which brings us to Alexandra Diaz (Eva Mendes), a Detective who would legally be the ex-Mrs.Whitlock if all the paperwork got signed, assigned to investigate the case as a homicide. Matt can barely hold back from dropping a load -- he knows that Ann has just named him beneficiary of a million dollars of life insurance, formerly assigned to Chris. Add to that the fact that Matt just happened to have been at Ann's house within hours of the explosion and you've got motive, method, and a major criminal case a brewing.

Not to mention the Federal prosecutors who come a callin', demanding their money back.

For the rest of the film Matt must stay one step ahead of his fellow cops and the Fed detectives who will eventually put the pieces together. Each time our good guy moves one step closer to detecting the true villain, Detective Whitlock moves two steps closer to nailing the Good Guy. It's called being up the creek and it's a pretty good ride. True, if you're the kind of person who tries to figure everything else out long before your friends -- rather than sitting back and enjoying your time in the dark -- you'll cop to at least 95% of Out of Time very early in the game. Terrific chemistry between Washington and Mendes and a series of deadlines built into the script keep entertainment values up in the red zone. There's a bit of comic relief and a surprise at the end thanks to John Billingsley as Matt's pal and local Medical Examiner.

And even with all the stuff we've revealed, you'll still have a good time. The general audience reaction on the way out of our screening all fell on the positive side, even those that fond the story dumb liked it. Out of Time is a movie with a capital M and is best seen on the big screen, IOHO.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Out of Time, he would have paid . . .


Watching Denzel duck and swerve and get the hell out of the firing line is worth whatever the costs are for the popcorn upgrade .

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