Out of Time (2003)

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Denzel Washington is a movie star, and I don’t think I’ve seen very many of his movies.  It’s funny when you watch a movie made 10+ years earlier with a marketable star because the rest of the cast is often filled out with people who were relevant at the time but might not be anymore.  Sure you have Eva Mendes in this film, but the real hero I’m talking about is Dean Cain.

Dean Cain was superman, but more pertinent to my life, he was the host of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.  

Near the start of this film we get a brief diner scene between Cain’s Chris Harrison and Washington’s Matthias Whitlock.  They frickin’ hate each other.

It’s so fun watching talents like Denzel Washington and Dean Cain’s goatee go ahead to head on screen.  It’s one of the great onscreen rivalries, like De Niro/Pacino (Heat, 1995) or Frost/Nixon.

Okay, here’s what you need to know.  Denzel is the chief of police, and he’s sleeping with Ann.  Ann is married to Chris, and Chris knows and hates Denzel.  Ann has cancer and has 5-6 months to live.  She brings Denzel to the doctor to hear the doctor say those words himself.  Denzel knows Ann is unhappy in her marriage, and she changes her beneficiary from Chris to Denzel.  Chris raised the life insurance policy so it now stands at one million dollars.  This seems a little odd, to change your beneficiary from your spouse to your side-piece, but hey, Denzel’s a nice side-piece.  It’s like having pizza as an appetizer.

So then Denzel is trying to help Ann flee from Chris.  He even gives her thousands of dollars from a recent drug bust to help her on her way.  Denzel goes to Ann’s home that night and he knows something’s wrong.  The next day the house is in flames and there are two charred bodies, presumably Ann and Chris.

I forgot to mention that Eva Mendes plays Denzel’s ex-wife and the investigating detective on the case.

Everything points to Denzel.  He was seen by a racist neighbor at the house the night before, and the life insurance forms show him as the beneficiary.  In a great “we don’t really understand technology and computers” scene, Denzel must quickly intercept the beneficiary form fax, photoshop his name out while he pretends like the machine isn’t working, and then replace the form with his own altered copy, all while laughing nervously.

So Denzel must hurry to find out what’s really going on before the cops close in on him.  He discovers that Ann’s doctor was not a real doctor, so he tracks down this guy, they fight and the guy dies, and Denzel gets the case with the money.  There’s a case with money.

Everything culminates in a rainy showdown in an abandoned warehouse.  Chris has Ann at gunpoint and Denzel shows up like a real hero, like he’s Captain Sully.

But, in the ensuing fight, Ann shoots Chris!  She was behind it all along!  But Chris was really bad?  It’s tough for guys like Chris.  Your wife is cheating on you and then she shoots you.  Man, this is what happens when couples isolate themselves too much from their friends and society as a whole.  Ann doesn’t seem to have a job, she only interacts with Chris and Denzel.  Chris hates his job and can only obsess over who he used to be (an athlete of some kind).  So they concoct a plan to set up the chief of police for murder.  I don’t know if falling in love was part of the plan, it never is, but thankfully it doesn’t come into play here.  No one loves anyone.

Except Eva Mendes!  She shows up and shoots Ann, then discovers that Denzel was set up and everything is cool.

In the final, final scene, Denzel is fishing with a backwards beige hat and his one earring.  Eva shows up.  Denzel asks if she wants a beer.  She says yes.  He reaches down into the cooler and hands a beer to her, but it’s just offscreen.  We don’t see the beer until Eva takes a swig, but it’s already half-empty.

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So Denzel just hands her either his own beer or a nice, frosty half-empty beer.  I can’t tell if it’s a filmmaking error or a deliberate slight from Denzel towards his ex-wife who just saved his life.

Then Denzel’s best friend, an alcoholic, shows up and says the beneficiary thing is legal and Denzel is a millionaire.  Eva makes a remark about being his wife because the divorce forms haven’t been signed.  Then they head into his house to consummate the un-divorce while the comical friend character is left on his porch, alone with a cooler of half-filled beers.

So this movie is packed full of plot.  There’s not much room to breathe, with the rope getting tighter and tighter.  It is pretty absurd, but the absurdity isn’t what hurts the film as much as every character sanded down so they have no real defining qualities.  Anyone could’ve played any role.  Most of the movie is Denzel standing still while the camera lies, flies, soars and dives around him.  They must’ve have fun filming this story but not as much writing it.  Were I the director, I would’ve cast Beyonce as Ann and Nicholas Cage as Denzel.  That would have made the twist more believable, like “right, right, I was wondering why Beyonce was getting involved with someone like Nicholas Cage.”  While we’re at it, let’s recast the best friend character with Dave Coulier from Full House (there could be a companion parody piece called Foal House where every character is a bird, but they have trouble getting along because parrots and hummingbirds hate each other or something).  Eva Mendes is replaced by Jennifer Aniston and Chris is still Deal Cain.

This movie, like Jumper, earned less than it cost to make and was directed by Carl Franklin who has recently become a pretty prolific TV director, having helmed episodes of The PacificHomeland, The Newsroom, House of Cards, The Affair, Bloodline, The Leftovers and Vinyl.

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