Out of Time

Director: Carl Franklin

As he proved with One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress, director Carl Franklin has a knack for sexy, mature adult mysteries that play on old film noir conventions with wondrous twists and while Out of Time isn’t quite in the same league as his aforementioned films, it’s wonderful fun made all the more possible by a great script from first time writer David Collard (a former staff writer for TV’s Family Guy) and re-teaming with the charismatic Devil leading man Denzel Washington. As Matthias Lee Whitlock, Denzel plays a small town chief of police in sleepy Banyan Key Florida where most nights are spent slyly drinking on the job or having an affair with his beautiful former girlfriend Sanaa Lathan, now married to domineering ex-NFL player Dean Cain. After a shocking, suspicious crime finds his lover dead and all evidence points to Whitlock, Denzel is literally a man running out of time to clear his name when his estranged soon to be ex-wife, the sexy detective Eva Mendes (his law enforcement superior) arrives to decipher the case as he tries to intercept everything incriminating while getting to the bottom of the puzzle. The film, which begins like a slow character piece filled with humidity and mood befitting to its Florida locale becomes fast paced and engrossing thanks to excellent portrayals by not only leads Washington and Mendes (who reminded me of the Karen Sisco character from Out of Sight) but also John Billingsley as Chae, Whitlock’s sole friend and sidekick, the hard-drinking, joking medical examiner who puts his trust in his colleague in helping to throw Mendes off the trail. Although one can see one or two of the final twists coming a long time before the finale, it’s a worthwhile thriller and filled with enough intrigue to turn what may have otherwise been a B picture into an A thanks to the performances, writing and Franklin’s deft direction that breathes surprising humor and life into a stale genre.