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Thursday, October 2, 2003

Fair cop

Movie: Out of Time

Posted on Thu, Oct 2, 2003 at 4:00 AM

***
Our Rating: 3.00

How much enjoyment you get from "Out of Time" largely depends on how much you would have liked "No Way Out" had you known all along that Kevin Costner was guilty. Another race-against-the-clock thriller with a corrupt, confused protagonist, "Out of Time" casts Denzel Washington as Matt Whitlock, a dirty police chief in the fictitious Banyan Key, Fla. Barely divorced from his detective wife (Eva Mendes), Matt is tomcatting around with the busty missus (Sanaa Lathan) of an abusive former footballer (Dean Cain). Moved by his sexed-up sweetie's serious health problems, Matt swipes a cache of seized drug money and presents it to her as a gift. Almost overnight, he's up to his armpits in charred corpses, incriminating insurance policies and a police investigation that could put him away for a long time. What did he expect, a better parking space?

Expect an average entry in the genre, its mediocrity ensured by an inconsistent cast: While John Billingsley is flat-out insufferable as Matt's wisecracking buddy, Mendes is easier to accept as a detective than her clingy outfits would indicate. There's also a small but pivotal role for the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival's Eric Hissom, playing a hotel clerk who winds up on the wrong end of Matt's fist (offscreen, which is a good thing: Hissom doesn't even place on my list of local actors I'd like to see clouted a good one).

Having Matt admit his stupid behavior lends the movie a brief ethical spark -- until we start to suspect that "learning a lesson" may be the extent of his comeuppance. Heaven forbid that a cop who steals evidence and nails a married woman should incur real punishment. It's enough to make you miss the Hayes Code.

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