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Out of Time - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

HAVING won an Oscar for Training Day, and then receiving plenty of critical acclaim for his directorial debut, Antwone Fisher, Denzel Washington can now command a huge salary, it seems.

His latest is notable for helping him to earn $20 million up front , a career high, thereby confirming his place in the upper eschelons of A-list stars. And what's more, the deal was signed before he won the Golden statuette for Training Day.

Out of Time finds Washington as the police chief of a small Florida town, who, against his better judgement, 'borrows' money from the evidence room, so that he can pay for an expensive medical procedure for the woman (Sanaa Lathan) he's always been in love with.

But his dream of a life with her is ruined when she dies in an arson-related incident, and all of the evidence points to him being the culprit.

With his reputation on the line, Washington must solve the case before he runs... out of time.

The film co-stars Eva Mendes, as a police detective co-worker, who he is also having an affair with, and former TV Superman, Dean Cain, as the husband of Lathan's character, who is also a former high school football quarterback.

According to MGM production president, Alex Gartner, 'the tone of this film is lighter than Denzel's last two films, but it is smart, fun and has tent-pole potential'.

And in case you were wondering, a 'tentpole' is the term given to a film that a studio thinks will be so successful, they can schedule an entire season around one or two of them.

And given Washington's current Box Office popularity - John Q, for example, set a President's Day weekend opening record with more than $23 million, despite lame reviews - the studio has every reason to anticipate another Washington home run.

Another factor in its favour is the fact that Out of Time reunites Washington with director, Carl Franklin, who helmed the star in the critically-acclaimed Devil In A Blue Dress.

The director has been keen to work with Washington again for some time and the complex, but fun, thriller seemed like the perfect project.

Ironically, the role wasn't written with Washington in mind; it wasn't even intended for a black actor.

Hugh Jackman had been touted to star in it, but could not take on the role because of his X-Men 2 commitments.

Audiences will have to see whether Jackman's loss is Washington's gain when the film opens in America on October 3.

As usual, IndieLondon will keep an eye on the critical verdict.

 

US reaction

Word from America on Denzel's latest has been surprisingly good, with several US scribes confessing to being pleasantly surprised by this smart little potboiler.

Leading the way is the Los Angeles Times, which wrote that 'despite the standard-issue ingredients - the palm trees, the femme fatale, the dirty money - there's something about the movie that sets it apart from the usual thriller'.

The Chicago Sun-Times stated that 'Washington is one of the most likable of actors, which is essential to this character, preventing us from concluding that he's getting what he deserves'.

It added that 'suspension of disbelief, always necessary in a thriller, is required here in wholesale quantities. But in a movie like Out of Time I'm not looking for realism, I'm looking for a sense of style brought to genre material'.

Similarly glowing was Entertainment Weekly, which awarded it a B+, and summed it up as 'entertainingly deft', while the Hollywood Reporter felt that 'working from a tight script by first-time screenwriter Dave Collard, Franklin moves the story at a brisk pace as his often-in-motion camera captures the sultry sensuality of a backwater coastal town'.

Strong, too, was the word from the Detroit Free Press, which observed that 'even folks who figure out the twist early on may find themselves clutching the armrests as Out of Time begins to run out of time'.

And Variety felt that it was 'tasty if wildly far-fetched'.

The Detroit News, meanwhile, stated that it is 'soggy at the beginning, silly at the end, but often riveting in between, Out of Time is another Denzel Washington movie that's nowhere near as good as Denzel Washington'.

And the New York Post remarked that it is an 'incredible but fun noir'.

The Philadelphia Daily News opined that 'can you see the ending coming a mile way? Sure you can. But in this case, getting there is way more than half the fun'.

And Rolling Stone remarked that 'it's a kick to watch Denzel Washington do a movie just for the hot, sexy fun of it'.

Another positive notice came from Newsday, which concluded that it is a 'gripping crime thriller that reunites Devil in a Blue Dress star Denzel Washington with director Carl Franklin and, in many ways, reinvents the genre'.

But the best word, however, seems reserved for The Philadelphia Inquirer, which concluded that Out of Time is 'the most purely entertaining thriller since No Way Out'.

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