A Roller Coaster, for Better and Worse

Out of Time

Carl Franklin’s Out of Time most closely resembles a roller coaster. The first 45 minutes are a long, clunky, and agonizingly dull climb up the hill, and the last hour is all momentum, action, and thrills.

The movie might as well be titled Denzel and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Day. The estimable Mr. Washington plays Matt Whitlock, the police chief of a Florida backwater whose adherence to basic ethical standards — don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t drink on the job — is at best lax. He’s not yet divorced, but he has a girl on the side, and the drug money in his department’s safe is just begging to be put to better use.

Of course, the day he gives his girl that drug money for expensive medical treatments, her house goes up in flames, leaving two dead bodies, and the DEA comes calling on Whitlock for all that cash. And because his girl changed the beneficiary on her life-insurance policy — to a certain Matthias L. Whitlock — he’s naturally the best suspect. And his wife is the investigating officer. And his girl’s neighbor saw him out her window the night of the fire.

At every turn, the movie is patently ridiculous, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun (after it finally gets going, of course). Franklin, who made the beautiful and dark One False Move, seems more comfortable these days with popcorn thrillers. Out of Time might not be art, but it’s more purely enjoyable than anything else I’ve seen recently.

Leave a comment