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Wed, Feb 21, 2018 05:19 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-10-15 tracking life & times section
Denzel, suspense make Out of Time thrilling
Cletus Turner

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Denzel Washington plays Matt Whitlock in Out of Time and Eva Mendes plays his ex-wife Alex. (click for larger version)
Sometimes in life, one white lie can blossom into a whole other animal. You don't mean for it to happen, but lie begets lie and soon you're covered.

This is what happens to Denzel Washington in Out of Time. Washington plays Matt Whitlock, chief of police in Banyan Key, Florida. Matt is divorcing his wife Alex, who is played by Eva Mendes. Alex has just been promoted to detective. Matt is also having an affair with his high school sweetheart, Anne, played by Sanaa Lathan. Matt's biggest problem is Anne is married to an abusive man named Chris, played by Dean Cain.

Matt has also just scored the biggest bust of his career. He not only has arrested drug dealers, he has also netted $500,000 in cash.

However, when Anne discovers that she has cancer, Matt is called in to rescue her. It seems that the cancer is very severe and a hospital in Europe might be able to save her life. Otherwise Anne only has about six months to live. Matt then takes the $500,000 and gives it to Anne to pay for the trip and hospital expenses. In return, Anne changes her insurance policy so that Matt is the beneficiary. Matt figures he can keep the Drug Enforcement Agency at bay long enough for the insurance policy to pay.

At first, I wondered why Anne didn't just go to her husband with the news and let him help her, but then I remembered that he is abusive. That is the reason Matt feels he must help her. Not only would she be getting treatment, but she would be away from her abusive husband. Compounding all the problems is the fact that Chris is super jealous of everyone that comes into contact with Anne and especially of Matt.

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(click for larger version)
Everything turns bad when a house fire kills Chris and Anne, and a neighbor can place Matt at the scene just before the house burns. It seems Matt was slipping out from a tryst with Anne just before Chris came home. To make matters worse, Matt's name is on the insurance policy as the beneficiary, and the $500,000 was in the house when the fire occurs. Sound like a lot of trouble? You bet. Could it get worse? You bet.

Alex is assigned to the case. Now, suddenly Matt must try to keep his smart, savvy ex-wife off the trail until he can find out who really killed Chris and Anne and is trying so hard to set him up.

That is one of the best points about Time. The whole film is set up for suspense and we get it. Washington is able to play a man at his wits end trying to figure out the mystery before someone he still cares about finds out too much and reaches the wrong conclusion.

I have always like Denzel Washington as an actor, but all too often, he comes off the screen as a little too stilted. Except for Grey Grantham in Pelican Brief, Washington just doesn't seem to be able to lose the cardboard image. Here, Washington breathes life into Matt and makes him complicated. Why would he give the money to Anne? Matt is complicated because he CARES about others. He doesn't want Alex to figure out how much he might be involved because he still cares for her and doesn't want to hurt her. He makes some bad choices, but above all, he is human. Washington is able to show us that. Eva Mendes also brings a strong performance as Alex to the screen. It is easy for her to show us a smart savvy woman because we have seen that kind of acting out of her before in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

Perhaps the biggest break from tradition would have to be Dean Cain. Superman on Lois and Clark, Cain plays against type and is a great study of what an actor should be. He takes a character that is mean and nasty and makes us really hate him when we really want to like the actor. Cain gives us a performance of a lifetime.

Overall, Out of Time is the perfect escape from a bad day. You are trapped by the plot, but the acting really is what brings the cheesy plot to life. Washington, Mendes and Cain make you want to know what is happening and want Washington out of the mess. We have all made mistakes, maybe not the huge ones Matt does, but still, we understand them. We have all told lies to protect ourselves, whether we want to admit that or not, and Matt's lies start off small. It's just later they become damaging. Which is what happens in many peoples lives and makes the movie so real. It's almost a page out of the newspaper. Thrilling indeed.

4 suns

At the box office:

Kill Bill Vol. 1 killed the competition by grossing $22 million in its first weekend. The film has Uma Thurman getting revenge and sliced up the competition.

School of Rock shocked the industry by garnering $15.5 million in its second week. The Jack Black film has made over $35 million in two weeks.

In third position at the box office is Good Boy!. The family film made $13 million in its debut weekend.

In fourth position is Intolerable Cruelty. The George Clooney/Catherine Zeta Jones flick garnered $12.5 million in its opening weekend.

In fifth was last week's number two film, Out of Time. The film made $8.6 million and has grossed $28.7 million in two weeks.

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