Less meta than Memento, Out of Time is also less gimmicky. It seems that a script nowadays is only greenlighted if it comes with a major plot twist or 20. Carl Franklin’s Out of Time observes what happens when a character is unsuspectingly grabbed by the balls and has to pull himself out of an elaborate con before he’s charged with a double homicide. Ridley Scott’s Matchstick Men similarly pulls the rug out from under its main character but saves the last con for its audience. Out of Time is no less inconsequential but works hard to make the audience part of its con and not a victim of it. The film opens with Banyan Key chief of police Matt Lee Whitlock (Denzel Washington) engaged in an elaborate game of sexual role-play with his high school sweetheart, Ann (Sanaa Lathan), who just so happens to be married to bad-news ex-cop Chris Harrison (Dean Cain). This cheesy scenario is ripe with one too many innuendos (“We need you to come now,” yells the guy on the police speaker, leaving Matt with a serious case of blue balls), but it perfectly sets up the more-than-obvious entrapment he must subsequently dismantle for the rest of the film. Much of this easy-breezy concoction’s fun is watching how screenwriter David Collard invents numerous ways of teasing Matt with the threat of being caught by his fellow officers (including his ex-wife, detective Alex Diaz) before he can catch those who are trying to frame him. (A fax from the phone company links Matt to the crucial crime scene, forcing the officer to scan the pages and remove his cellphone number before sending them back to the station’s fax machine.) In putting Matt repeatedly through the wringer, the filmmakers force the audience to live out the character’s nightmare vicariously but still maintain a kind of critical distance from the man. Pity that for all its unpretentious excitement, Out of Time feels so disposable, not unlike one of those silly wind-up toys that don’t really demand a second go-around.
- Carl Franklin
- David Collard
- Denzel Washington, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, Eva Mendes, Alex Carter, Robert Baker, John Billingsley, Tom Hillmann
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