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Out of Time (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary; Out of Time: Crime Scene; Outtakes; Character profiles. Screen tests; Photo gallery; Theatrical trailer

DENZEL Washington reunites with Devil In A Blue Dress director, Carl Franklin, for a smart little thriller about a police chief who finds himself framed for a murder, after doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Out of Time is the type of thriller which feels familiar from the start, but which treads an intriguing, taut and completely enjoyable path towards its somewhat inevitable conclusion, while also providing another effortless showcase of Washington’s considerable talents.

It is the cinematic equivalent of a pulp novel, a neo-noirish adventure that keeps viewers on their toes throughout, even though more seasoned members of the audience may see through its bigger twists and turns.

Washington stars as Matt Lee Whitlock, the chief of police for the small town of Banyan Key, in Florida, who is having an affair with Sanaa Lathan’s battered wife, Anne Merai.

When she is diagnosed with cancer, Whitlock makes the dubious decision to give her the confiscated funds from a drugs bust he is storing, so that she can get away from her abusive husband (Dean Cain) and receive the treatment she requires.

But when the married couple’s corpses are pulled from the remains of their burned down house the following day, the ensuing murder hunt points directly towards Whitlock, who faces a race against time to prevent himself from becoming the chief suspect.

To complicate matters still further, the case is being investigated by his soon-to-be ex-wife, Alex (Eva Mendes), while the DEA want to reclaim the confiscated drug money for use as evidence in a high-profile prosecution.

Despite a somewhat laboured opening, director, Franklin, does a superb job of cranking up the tension once the main thrust of the movie gets underway, as the odds become increasingly stacked against Whitlock’s honest police chief emerging as the fall guy.

Several of the resulting scenarios, in which Whitlock attempts to stay one step ahead of his own department, while throwing Alex off the scent, are extremely well played, while the chemistry between Washington and Mendes does a suitably convincing job of mixing their feelings for each other, with a cat-and-mouse element that keeps things feisty.

Lathan fares less well, however, as Whitlock’s love-interest, coming over more annoying than sympathetic, while Cain feels mostly awkward, aside from one great exchange with Washington in a bar, during the film’s early stages.

And while the so-called ‘explosive finale’ feels somewhat routine by comparison to the truly great noir thrillers, the fun, as is so often the case nowadays, comes from seeing how Washington manoeuvres himself out of one difficult situation from the next.

Fans of the genre, and Washington in particular, shouldn’t be disappointed.

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