Out of Time

Watching Out of Time is an interesting experience, mostly because it is almost completely predictable, yet still a tad tense. The film is full of twists and turns, but the problem is that the structure of the film is so familiar that the twists telegraph themselves far before they happen. People can easily guess what will happen and when it will happen, and how the story will play out well before the end. What saves the film is Denzel Washington's performance, which maintains a level of gravitas to counter the story, which at times borders on the ridiculous.

Washington (Antwone Fisher, John Q.) is Matt Lee Whitlock, the chief of police in small Banyan Key, Florida. He is separated from his wife Alex (Eva Mendes, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, 2 Fast 2 Furious) and is having an affair with Anne Merai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan, Brown Sugar, Love and Basketball). Anne Merai, a childhood friend of Matt's, is married to Chris (Dean Cain, Rat Race, The Broken Hearts Club), who isn't a friend of Matt's. Anne Merai wants to spend the rest of her life with Matt, and at the beginning of the film, makes him the beneficiary on her life insurance. To complicate matters, she discovers that she has terminal cancer. The only thing that can help her is an expensive operation in Europe. Anne Merai doesn't have the money, but Matt does. There is a huge sum of cash confiscated from a drug sting that Matt can "borrow," since it will be tied up in evidence potentially for years.

Obviously, first-time screenwriter David Collard is crafting a carefully constructed house of cards, and this is where Out of Time falters. Anne Merai's house burns down, killing her and Chris, and throwing Matt into confusion. Worse, Alex, a homicide detective, is assigned to investigate. Matt madly dashes about hiding evidence, because he doesn't want to reveal that he had an affair, stole money, potentially broke the law. The rest of the film follows Matt as he tries to deflect Alex's investigation from discovering his involvement while trying to discover what really happened. The lengths that Washington's character goes to obstruct justice soon become laughable, as Collard and director Carl Franklin (High Crimes, One True Thing) focus on little tiny things and treat them like they are matters of life and death.

Franklin and Washington previously worked on Devil on a Blue Dress together. Not that it makes any difference here. The film relies on the viewer's ability to suspend their disbelief that Matt can successfully jump through so many hoops to hide his involvement. He can dial a fake number for a florist, edit a fax on his computer, and come up with bizarre excuses that Alex believes. Franklin does set forth some clues, but makes them a little too blatant, so that instead of foreshadowing something, he spoils the surprise. Ooh look! It's a PEN. And look! Cain is looking at a DEAD PERSON. Washington is too good of an actor to wallow around in stuff as unintentionally funny as this, but his presences lends an air of legitimacy to the film. It also moves quickly, which helps to alleviate some of its predictability. Moving quickly also helps to create some tension. Not much though.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, and some language.

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