In just a few short days I will be road tripping it up the East coast to go to yet another convention. In addition to all the last minute planning and packing I have to do, I am also trying to squeeze in a few movies starring celebrities that I may meet. Dean Cain of Lois & Clark fame is one such celebrity. In Out of Time, Cain trades in the morals of the Big Blue Boy Scout in favor of a more unsavory role.
In the sleepy little Florida town of Banyan Key, police chief Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) spends many of his nights doing the same thing; walking the quiet streets to keep the city safe, drinking away the pain of his impending divorce, and sleeping with his high school sweetheart, Ann Merai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan). His tryst with Ann is complicated considering her abusive husband Chris (Dean Cain) and that she’s dying of cancer. Matt steals $450,000 from a recent drug bust so they can run off together, but before they ride off into the sunset, Matt’s called to the scene of Ann’s burning home. With all evidence pointing to him as the prime suspect in the murder of Ann and Chris and the DEA looking for the drug money, Matt has to use all his skills to stay a step ahead of the case’s lead detective, his estranged wife Alex (Eva Mendes).
The first feature-length script developed by David Collard, Out of Time becomes a superb thriller under the direction of Carl Franklin. It also helps to have Denzel Washington as your leading man. In Out of Time, Whitlock is a seemingly good man with a few demons in need of exorcising and Washington, as he’s proven in other films, can deftly straddle that line. Surprisingly though, his isn’t the most noteworthy performance. As Ann Merai, Sanaa Lathan offers up a performance not to be missed. She’s also so sultry that if it weren’t for the Florida setting, you’d swear she’s the heat that’s causing everyone to sweat so much. Mendes and Cain offer up exceptional supporting performances and John Billingsley provides some much needed comic relief as the town’s medical examiner and Matt’s best bud, Chae.
In addition to inspiring such memorable performances from his cast, Carl Franklin keeps this thriller tense and taut. This is accomplished through a continuing series of near-misses. Depending on how critical a thriller aficionado you may be, some viewers might find these edge-of-your-seat moments a bit too convenient, but Washington’s smoothness of character makes nearly all of his work-arounds seem plausible. Having seen this a number of times, I personally find that it still holds up to scrutiny rather well.
Realistic characterizations, well-written dialogue and the engrossing ebb and flow of the tension should put Out of Time on your must-see list, especially if you somehow missed it when it was released in 2003. It’s not only quite the entertaining film, but it’ll have you wondering why Sanaa Lathan isn’t a bigger star.