Release Date(s)2003 (October 30, 2018)
Studio(s)MGM/20th Century Fox (MVD Marquee Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C-
Out of Time reteams Denzel Washington and director Carl Franklin, who had previously worked together on Devil in a Blue Dress eight years prior. Out of Time wasn’t a box office success upon its release as it was an early October title and was going up against School of Rock that same weekend, but it still managed to put another notch in Denzel Washington’s belt of mostly solid action thrillers, the likes of which he was going to become more than accustomed to – particularly under the direction of Tony Scott in Déjà Vu, Man on Fire, and Unstoppable.
Matt Whitlock (Washington) is the chief of police in a small Florida town. While going through a rocky divorce with a newly-appointed detective (Eva Mendes), he also finds himself having an affair with a married woman Anne-Merai (Sanaa Lathan), who appears to have an abusive husband (Dean Cain). After a visit to the doctor, Anne is diagnosed with cancer, but lacks the funds for treatment. Against his better judgment, Whitlock takes a large amount of money from an evidence locker to pay for her medical bills. Things go south quick when both Anne and her husband wind up dead and Whitlock, who Anne made the sole beneficiary on her insurance policy shortly before dying, finds himself a suspect in the case. It’s now a race against the clock as Whitlock must avoid both the D.E.A. and his ex-wife in order to clear his name.
Partly what makes Out of Time work so well is Denzel Washington, who is almost always likable and sympathetic, even when it’s not easy to follow him down his morally incorrect paths. Other performances are fine, but Denzel outshines them all by comparison. The contrivances of the story can be tough to swallow, but in order for a conspiracy-type thriller of this sort to work, you have to push on through. What doesn’t fully work though is John Billingsley’s character, a medical examiner who is Whitlock’s drinking buddy and partner in crime. His one-liners do get a bit grating from time to time, but he does ultimately serve a couple of story functions, making his presence warranted.
Out of Time is a stylish thriller that has shades of film noir, but in a 21st century world. By the end of the film (and without spoiling it), there are no clear villains, but rather people making questionable actions at every turn. The film also juggles its protagonist around quite a bit, with some nail-biting sequences in which he attempts to evade incriminating phone calls, faxes, and even a kindly old lady who points him out as a potential suspect. His journey towards redemption (albeit paved initially with good intentions) is a mostly taught, but definitely well-paced, edge-of-your-seat piece of entertainment.
For its newest Blu-ray release, the MVD Marquee Collection presentation of the film features an older, but solid transfer with a pleasant and refined sheet of grain, a variety of textures, and high levels of detail. The color palette reflects the hot Florida climate, showing off some bold tans, oranges, and yellows, but also making room for greens, blues, and reds as well. Black levels are fairly deep without resorting to crush while contrast and brightness levels are never blown out. Everything is stable and mostly clean, leaving behind only brief bits of speckling, and there appears to be no signs of DNR of artificial sharpening.
The audio comes in several options, including English 5.1 DTS-HD, English 2.0 LPCM, and Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby Digital. The 5.1 track offers a mildly good surround experience, giving some support to Graeme Revell’s bluesy, jazz-infused score, but also occasional ambient activity. On both tracks, dialogue comes through clean and precise, while sound effects have plenty of much-needed heft. There’s also no distortions, instances of clipping, or other audio problems to speak of. Optional subtitles are also included in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Korean.
The extras incorporate everything from the original DVD release of the film, including an audio commentary with director Carl Franklin, which opts for silence far too often for my taste; Out of Time: Crime Scene, a decent 12-minute behind-the-scenes featurette containing interviews with producer Jesse B’Franklin (AKA Jesse Beaton), director Carl Frankin, writer Dave Collard, and actors Dean Cain, Sanna Lathan, Eva Mendes, and Denzel Washington; 2 outtakes; a photo gallery featuring 27 on-set and behind-the-scenes stills; 3 Sanaa Lathan Screen Tests; 2 Dean Cain Screen Tests; a set of text-based Character Profiles, which also feature additional interview footage (Matt Lee Whitlock, Alex Diaz Whitlock, Ann Merai Harrison, Chris Harrison, and Chae); a trailer for the film itself, and additional trailers for other MVD Blu-ray releases, including Angel Town, Autumn in New York, Basic Instinct 2, Lionheart, The Man from Earth, The Man from Earth: Holocene, Walking Tall, and Windtalkers.
Out of Time is a somewhat forgotten little gem. It’s the type of thriller that actually gives you an authentic reason to care and hope for the best of all outcomes. Between Carl Franklin’s strong direction and Denzel Washington’s towering presence, it’s definitely one worth re-evaluation as it was sadly not that appreciated initially. MVD’s Blu-ray re-release further establishes that this one has legs. Highly recommended.
– Tim Salmons