While "Out of Time” is certainly not a total loss, it is a little disappointing, considering the talent involved. Director Carl Franklin reunites here with “Devil in a Blue” dress star Denzel Washington, who plays Matt Whitlock, the sheriff of Florida town. He’s in the process of getting a divorce from his detective wife (Eva Mendes), but still keeps in touch with former high school sweetheart Ann (Sanaa Lathan), who is married to a jerk of a quarterback who is abusive to her.
Matt learns that Ann has a terminal case of cancer; while thought to be in remission, the cancer has only become worse. In an attempt to save her, Matt takes drug money from evidence to pay for treatment. In return, he ends up in her will. Of course, this leads to trouble, as when Ann and her husband are suddenly taken out of the picture, all signs point to Matt, who must now do his best to try and cover up his tracks. No surprise - the wife and detective that Matt has just gone through a divorce proceeding with is the investigator.
The film’s pros and cons almost balance each other out. Positives include an excellent Denzel Washington performance, an interesting score and a few swift, surprising plot twists. On the other hand, there are some plot twists in the picture that are apparent far in advance and also, a few that seemed quite convienient. While I liked some of the ways that Matt found himself in deeper trouble, I was never really concerned that he wouldn’t come up with something, as the movie often managed to come up with an “out”, not all of which were convincing. Again, to his credit, Washington’s solid performance is involving, despite the fact that the character is a bit all-over-the-place, sometimes doing rather dumb things and sometimes coming up with last-second solutions (a fax machine sabotage is a clever little sequence).
Overall, I thought “Out of Time” was a moderately diverting 105 minutes. Some of the plot twists and sequences pull together well enough to generate mild suspense, the film’s atmosphere is crafted quite superbly and the pace keeps moving quite well. However, I didn’t like the fact that elements of the later part film were clearly foreshadowed early on, and some started to seem far-fetched. While Washington provided a skilled performance, I never really felt that any of the other performers provided anything noteworthy, nor were their characters sufficently developed. This is a pretty good film from a genre I enjoy, but I just couldn’t help but feel that if some of the scenes were rethought, it could have been an even better picture.
VIDEO: “Out of Time” is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen by MGM. This is largely a very nice transfer, although it does suffer from a few minor/mild issues. Theo Van De Sande (“Blade”)’s cinematography is lovely, capturing the warm Florida locations quite superbly. Sharpness and detail are perfectly fine, with satisfactory detail and clarity, aside from a few slightly softer/hazier moments.
Still, a few concerns included some minor edge enhancement in a handful of scenes and a compression artifact or two. The majority of the film had the print looking pristine, but there was still a speck or two on the print used and a little bit of inconsistent grain. Colors remained bright and warm, with nice saturation and clarity.
SOUND: “Out of Time” is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film’s audio is not particularly ambitious, staying largely within the front speakers. While this isn’t out-of-the-ordinary for a movie that’s largely dialogue driven, the surrounds could have at least provided some ambience during the outdoor sequences and reinforcement for the score. The rear speakers did come into play a few times throughout the film, but their use was quite minimal and not effective. Audio quality was quite good, however, as the score sounded clean and clear, while dialogue was natural and well-recorded.
EXTRAS: The main supplement is an intelligent and insightful commentary from director Carl Franklin. While the director does pause occasionally throughout the commentary, the occasional silence is made up for by the director’s ability to get right to the point in trying to describe the production’s experiences. We learn more about shooting on location in Florida, casting, story issues, costume/production design and trying to build/alter locations for the benefit of the film crew. This is a very good commentary that I enjoyed - I learned a lot about the production and some aspects of filmmaking.
Also included are a general 12-minute “making of” featurette, character bios, 2 outtakes, screen tests for Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain, trailer, trailers for other MGM titles (including a teaser for “Barbershop II”) and image gallery.
Final Thoughts: “Out of Time” is a potboiler with great elements and great moments that nevertheless never develops supporting characters particularly well and occasionally seems predictable and/or far-fetched. Still, while it’s unfortunate that it’s not the better film it could have been, it’s still an entertaining 105 minutes and a good rental choice. MGM’s DVD offers good video, decent audio and a few solid supplements.
The Film ***