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DVD REVIEW

Out of Time - Special Edition  (2003)

 

Rating: PG-13

Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: January 6, 2004
Review posted: January 7, 2004

Spoilers: Minor

 

Reviewed by Dennis Landmann

 

Synopsis

 

In Banyan Key, a small Florida town surrounded by azure seas and sultry secrets, Chief of Police Matt Whitlock (Denzel Washington) finds himself caught in the eye of the storm as he investigates the murder of a woman (Sanaa Lathan) he was secretly seeing. He races to uncover a murky trail of stolen money all the while staying two steps ahead of his own detectives, as well as his ex-wife, a detective with a different department (Eva Mendes).

 

Critique

 

Dave Collard's script is a mixed bag. Part of it tells a simple story and moves at a slow pace. The first thirty minutes or so are spent with Matt Whitlock romancing Sanaa Lathan's Ann Merai Harrison. She is married to Chris Harrison, played by Dean Cain. Complications occur for Matt when the Harrison residence goes up in flames and his ex-wife Alex, played by Eva Mendes, investigates. For some of the time I wondered just what was going on. Out of Time starts off slow, but once the twist occurs I was invested in the Whitlock character; I wanted to see how he would handle the situation.

 

The other part of the script has tension-filled moments written on it. Essentially, Out of Time is an average thriller with several tension-filled moments. There are two scenes in particular that I liked and are the film's highlights. The first one takes place inside the police station with Matt racing against time to divert his ex-wife from connecting him to Ann Merai, including the falsification of phone records. The second one begins when Matt arrives at the hotel where a suspected con man is staying. You've probably seen the scene in the film's ad campaign; Denzel dangles five stories in the air, hanging onto a broken balcony outside of a hotel room. Those moments represent excitement, but the rest of the film offers nothing special. There is another subplot featuring federal agents, but it's not very interesting. Also, the ending is a little too easy.

 

Making a little more of things is director Carl Franklin, shooting the film beautifully with DOP Theo van de Sande. They present viewers with great visuals of Banyan Key and its surroundings. Also commendable is the fitting score by Graeme Revell. Out of Time is reminiscent of Body Heat, which was directed by Lawrence Kasdan. However, Dave Collard's script is not as original or suspenseful as Kasdan's thriller, it's more predictable.

 

In terms of acting, a generally good cast surrounds the film. Once again Washington shows viewers he can play any type of role. Matt Whitlock is a standard character, but the actor injects a bit more life and punch when needed, especially during the film's "moments". Eva Mendes looks good here, but I thought the film didn't make it clear until sometime later that she's Matt's ex-wife. Her performance is a good counterpart to Washington. Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain are also good. Most surprising, however, is the scene-stealing John Billingsley as Chae, the station's coroner. In the end, I liked Out of Time mostly for its tension-filled moments and in that regard am recommending it.

 

The Video

 

MGM presents Out of Time in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen according to the back cover. The presentation looks close to the 2.35:1 format and other DVD sites have stated this also. In any case, picture quality is very nice. Colors are sharp, vivid and warm. The print image is of very good quality, but a few instances of specks and grain appear. As for flaws, only minor edge enhancement and a few compression artifacts occur. The rest of the presentation is bright and well-saturated.

 

The Audio

 

MGM presents Out of Time in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. This is kind of an idle audio presentation. Despite a natural and good reproduction of the dialogue across the two front channels, the track mainly concentrates on the front, which means the surrounds hardly come into effect. There is not a lot of ambience here. The rear speakers come alive a few times in exterior scenes, but much of the audio is front-heavy. Sound effects are limited, but recorded well. In the end, MGM's audio presentation sounds just fine.

 

French and Spanish Stereo Surround dubs are available.

 

The Extras

 

MGM has put together a nice assortment of extras for this special edition release. The main event is an insightful audio commentary by director Carl Franklin. He knows what these tracks are supposed to be about and therefore doesn't just narrate what's on screen. Instead, Franklin recalls his experience during the production by sharing information such as casting, location, production design and other issues. He pauses a few times, but I didn't mind much.

 

Next is Out of Time: Crime Scene, a 12-minute featurette including interviews, film clips, and on-set footage. The rest of the extras include character profiles that are brief clips about a specific character, two outtakes that are average, several screen tests for Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain, a photo gallery with some 50 stills, the film's original theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers for MGM titles. All in all, these extras are good, but not all too revealing, except for the commentary track by Franklin.

 

You can select to view the film with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. The 105-minute feature is organized into thirty-two chapters. A paper insert lists scene selections and cast list.

 

Overall

 

With Out of Time Washington reiterates he can perform well in any role. His acting is good here. Pacing is fine, some of the tension works, but ultimately the story is just not that compelling. The script doesn't offer much that distinguishes the film from other recent thrillers. MGM's video/audio is fine. Extras are okay, but the commentary is really good. A recommended rental.

 

RATINGS SUMMARY

 

THE MOVIE 7
THE VIDEO 7

THE AUDIO

7

THE EXTRAS

6

OVERALL (not an average)

7

 

VERDICT: RECOMMENDED

 


 

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