Out of Time
Film review by: Witney Seibold
Director Carl Franklin started his career, as so many people in this town do (myself included), working for Roger Corman. And while he received much acclaim on the indie circuit for his rather good “Devil in a Blue Dress,” most of his films have the somewhat pandering, populist tone of a straight-to-video, assembly-line Corman formula film; a tone of manipulative cheap shots and easy-ways-out (“One True Thing,” the Meryl-Streep-with-Cancer opus, is his). I want to make clear that I admire Roger Corman, and laud his finding of new talent and no-nonsense way of producing films. I have to also acknowledge, however, that a lot of the films he makes are rarely more than boilerplate cheapies. Franklin’s “Out of Time,” starring Denzel Washington, is no exception. It has a lot of good moments, but, at the end of the day, feels like drivel. While having promise, he has yet to completely live out his days as a Corman employee.
Washington plays Matthias Whitlock, a chief-of-police in the midst of both a divorce from co-worker Alex (Eva Mendes), and a heated affair with the married Anne (Sanaa Lathan from “Love and Basketball”). Anne’s husband is a slimy slab of meat named Chris (Dean Cain). When Anne is diagnosed with terminal cancer (I think of the liver), Matthias gets the bright idea to steal a great deal of recovered drug money he was watching, and split to Switzerland with her to treat her. When Anne and Chris turn up dead, Matthias must work frantically to simultaneously solve the crime, and cover up his involvement in it. Chases, close calls, etc., ensue. There is, of course, a twist to all this, and my cynicism almost makes me give it away, but my principles keep me in check.
The whole love story bit of this film is almost painful to watch. Giving someone cancer in a drama is the equivalent of a bus explosion in an action film. It’s not until the crime story begins that the film picks up a little. It becomes and almost-real-time chase, with close calls that are often quite well done. Also, the role of Funny Sidekick is played by John Billingsley from “Enterprise,” and he is as much a delight to watch as Don Cheadle (the violent Mouse) was in “Devil in a Blue Dress.” But overall, the film is a little too typical. Too throwaway.