Plot: What’s it about?
Denzel Washington, fresh off his Oscar win for playing Alonzo Harris, is back in “Out of Time” a play the book thriller. However, Washington with his presence and uncanny acting ability makes this more of a treat and less like a “Been there, done that” kind of film”. Washington is a very likeable actor, and it’s conveyed through his performance here. Even as bad as Alonzo Harris was, his smirk and record for playing the good guys made him that way. Washington has cut his teeth in a number of movies, ranging from the very artsy (Devil in a Blue Dress and Mo Better Blues) to the very mainstream (Crimson Tide and The Pelican Brief), but it’s been his performances that have brought audiences coming back for more and more. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a great actor to boot. His laid back persona seems to convey that he’s good at what he does. Director Carl Franklin describes in the featurette that just like the best athletes don’t make it look like they’re trying, Denzel doesn’t either. And that’s a good analogy. He’s so good at acting (like many others), that it’s easy to get lost in his performance and accept that it’s his character who’s trying to accomplish the goals.
Washington plays Matt Lee Whitlock, Chief of Police in a small Florida town where nothing really big seems to happen. It just so happens that something big just did happen, though, as Whitlock was responsible for a rather large drug bust. Accolades abound, but it’s business as usual in Banyan Key. Whitlock is getting divorced from his wife, Alex (Eva Mendes), who has just been promoted to detective in nearby Miami. Though the two bicker, it’s clear there’s still something there between them. This leaves time for Matt to have an affair with his high school sweetheart, Ann Harrison (Sanaa Lathan) who is married to ex-football player Chris (Dean Cain). Whitlock isn’t your ideal policeman, he steals the drug money ($500,000) to use for Ann so that she can go to Europe to have an operation to cure her Cancer. Ann has also named Matt the beneficiary on her will and he’s narrowly avoided being caught by Chris, who is becoming more and more jealous as time goes by. It’s then that Ann’s house catches fire and two bodies are found, presumably Chris and Ann. All evidence points to Matt, but he tries to stay ahead of his wife and the rest of the police force. Pardon the pun, but to add fuel to the fire, the DEA has now decided that they need the evidence money so they can trace the serial numbers and solve another case with this money. Clearly, things are out of control for Whitlock.
What sets apart “Out of Time” from most other cookie-cutter films like this is the acting. Washington brings a good charisma to the screen, but at the same time we have to see that he isn’t totally innocent of everything that has happened (he did steal evidence money and he was technically cheating on his wife). The medical examiner (John Billingsley) is there to offer some comic relief, but actually adds a good element of action and suspense to the role as well. Mendes’ who starred in “Training Day” with Washington as well, is good in her role and as predictable as you think the plot might be, it turns on you. In much the same way that good thrillers are tense, so is this. What is lacks in originality, it makes up for in entertainment. I found myself engrossed in this nice little surprise from the director of “Devil in a Blue Dress”. The cast is great with Washington in the lead, and it seems no one is who they claim to be. Suspend your disbelief for an hour and a half and let the movie take you for a ride, it’s entertaining and a thriller not to be overlooked.
Video: How does it look?
“Out of Time” is shown in an anamorphic ratio of 2.40:1. Showcasing the warm hues and eye candy landscape of South Florida, the movie has a very different look and feel to it. The colors are warm, bright and vivid and even the nighttime scenes look great. There is very little edge enhancement and a lack of artifacting that results in a very clear picture. Many of the shots take place during the day and the framing of the picture makes you appreciate the beauty of DVD. I really couldn’t find much wrong with the picture here, it’s consistent with a day and date release and MGM has done a fine job at presenting it.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio isn’t quite as strong as one might think, but it still packs a punch. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has some moments, but for the most part the soundstage is limited to the front channels. The opening credits do have a somewhat “tropical” theme to them as does the movie itself. Some gunshots, thunderstorms and other effects do take advantage of all 5.1 channels, but this isn’t something that you’ll remember as having great sound. Quite frankly the soundtrack is on par with an action movie and though it’s good, it’s nothing that will light up your home entertainment system.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Out of Time” comes equipped with just enough features to whet the appetite for some more. First up is a commentary with Director Carl Franklin. Franklin, having worked with Washington before, speaks candidly about the actor and the shoot in general. It’s not a very technical track and only true fans of the film will want to listen to it, but I learned a few things about the making of the movie. There are five different scenes for screen tests with Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain (he has two, she three) which show them reading different parts of the script for the movie. On a lighter note are some outtakes and a photo gallery as well. The only other supplement of substance is “Out of Time: Crime Scene” which is a featurette that tells how the movie was made and has some interviews with the cast and crew. We’ve seen it all before and this is essentially just like every other featurette on every other DVD. Lastly, the original theatrical trailer is included.