DVD Review HTF Review: Out of Time - Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

    Jul 6, 2003
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    Out of Time: Special Edition

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2003
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 105 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.40:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    Audio: English - Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish & French – Stereo Surround

    In Out of Time, Denzel Washington and director Carl Franklin, who collaborated on the under-appreciated noir film [/i]Devil in a Blue Dress[/i], reunite for the creation of a very solid psychological thriller. Although it is obviously set in a different period and region, Out of Time bears some similarity to Devil in a Blue Dress, in terms of its straight-forward storytelling style and heavy utilization of beautiful, atmospheric locales, in this case the cities of Boca Grande, Cortez, and Miami, Florida.

    During the film’s first act, Carl Franklin expends a great deal of energy to establish the complexity of the relationships between the principal characters, and lets the dynamics between these characters simmer to a slow boil. He wants to give his audience ample time to analyze the turmoil in police chief Matt Whitlock’s (Denzel Washington) personal life, which includes a separation from his homicide detective wife Alex Diaz Whitlock (Eva Mendes), and an adulterous relationship with Ann Merai Harrison (Sanaa Lathan), who also happens to be married. As luck would have it, Ann’s husband Chris Harrison (Dean Cain), a former professional football player, and current spousal abuser, has also had an antagonistic relationship with Matt for many years.

    Of course, it is Oscar©-winner Denzel Washington who anchors Out of Time as the good-natured, conscientious police chief of Banyan Key who gets himself mixed up in some nasty and dangerous business. Specifically, the real “meat” of writer David Collard’s story begins coming off the bone when Ann tells Matt that she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and made him the beneficiary of a healthy life insurance policy. Since Whitlock is aware of the type of man her husband is, and he wants her for himself, he breaks the law by giving her almost $500,000 from the police department's evidence safe so she can get the medical care she needs (and break away from Chris).

    The plot thickens for Matt, when just as suddenly as he discovers Ann is doomed, an arsonist burns her home down, leaving two badly charred bodies behind. Unfortunately for Chief Whitlock, a classic frame-up has all the evidence of murder and theft pointing to him and his act of “charity”. Before long, the feds are demanding the money that Chief Whitlock no longer has, and aided by Detective Alex Whitlock, they are closing in on his trail. As a result, Matt has to race against time to steer the investigators in the wrong direction and set things right before his indiscretions are discovered. It is ironic that Chief Whitlock, a trusted law enforcement officer, ends up battling to stay ahead of a team comprised of his own officers, and his ex-wife, by mucking up their investigation. However, the frame-up is well planned and carefully executed, so the difficulties Matt encounters during every turn through the balmy areas in and around Miami bring him closer to his own downfall.

    As Out of Time’s story continues unfolding, Carl Franklin supplements the building suspense with a handful of intense action sequences, and the requisite plot twists necessary to keep things interesting. Indeed, Mr. Franklin’s overall direction is so smooth and unforced, it really seems like he just let this incredibly talented cast do their thing and turned the cameras on them. The only real gripe I had was with the climax, where the somewhat conventional and predictable ending causes the film to lose a little of its potency.

    It is at its end that some of the plot points in Out of Time seem to not withstand careful analysis, but the movie is consistently redeemed by the ingenious ways that Chief Whitlock is placed into one predicament after another. Additionally, the wonderful performances more than offset whatever small holes are present in Dave Collard’s story. To say the least, Denzel Washington, who is an incredibly gifted actor, is in top form here, giving the film a considerable lift. In my estimation, Out of Time displays Washington in his most charming and organic state, and his performance subtly draws the audience into Chief Whitlock's world as it rapidly spirals out of control.

    The rest of the cast rises to the occasion as well, turning in performances that are uniformly excellent. For example, Eva Mendes, who was also Denzel’s spouse in Training Day (is this guy lucky, or what?), really sells her character as a bright, capable detective instead of just a sex object. Sanaa Lathan also shines, and even manages to hold her own in scenes with Denzel Washington. Likewise, Dean Cain deserves a nod for playing Ann Merai’s rough and tumble husband with the palpable intensity the role calls for. Finally, Chief Whitlock's only friend in all this mess is a rather disingenuous and slovenly medical examiner named Chae, who is played expertly by John Billingsley. Mr. Billingsley is an outstanding character actor, and he adds welcome comic relief to the film, but avoids being silly enough to detract from the serious and suspenseful tone set by director Carl Franklin.

    In the final analysis, Out of Time is not the best film in this genre, but it is a far more creative and entertaining than its generic, off-the-shelf title might suggest. Personally, I cannot understand why this film has only managed to pull in $41 million at the box office (as of November 30th), but perhaps it will realize some deserved success in the home video market with its quick release on DVD. At the very least, those who enjoy a solidly executed film noir, complete with greed inspired double-crosses and gorgeous females, will likely enjoy Out of Time, and should consider giving it a look.

    Out of Time was filmed in beautiful locations along Florida’s western coast, and MGM’s ultra-wide anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) transfer does a nice job of bringing the visual appeal of these locations into the home. The source print is squeaky-clean, free from specks and other distracting debris, and the image is also devoid of annoying compression artifacts, so the smoke and fog present in the film have a natural, non-digital appearance. Further, although there is a little bit of edge enhancement present, it is so subtly applied that halos never proved to be a distraction.

    Color rendering is also very accurate, with bold, saturated colors, crisp whites, and excellent flesh tone reproduction. Black level is rock solid throughout as well, and the combination of nicely saturated colors and commendable shadow delineation give the image a rich, three-dimensional texture. Finally, there is enough detail and sharp edges in Out of Time’s many nighttime sequences to make it easy to tell what is happening. Overall, this is a very pleasing transfer that has no trouble reproducing the source material! Nice work!

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio track for Out of Time is a full-bodied immersion into the world of Banyan Key. The wide soundstage provides an “airy” quality to the encoded audio information, which enhances dialogue, the score, effects, and even macro-dynamic sounds like a knife slicing through a sandwich or the snap of a briefcase latch.

    Dialogue, in particular is reproduced precisely, without hissing or distortion, even in scenes containing lots of audio information. The score, which mates well with the on-screen events is presented nicely as well, with tangible instrument separation and even frequency response. With frequency response in mind, the lower registers come through in a powerful, well-defined manner, adding substantial impact to both the score and action sequences.

    Finally, the surround channels are used frequently, and to great effect, to recreate the feeling of being outdoors, generate location specific effects (like barking dogs), embellish scenes with ambient noise, and to provide a more enveloping experience during the action sequences. To sum things up, this is a very good mix, one that not only helped draw me into the story, but also left me very little to quibble about.


    Feature Length Commentary:
    The feature length commentary by director Carl Franklin is handled in a cool, laid-back fashion. Mr. Franklin takes a less is more approach, and there are frequent long pauses throughout the commentary, especially at the end of the film, where he signs off and just lets the ending play out unmolested.

    Highlights included:

    --- The house Ann Merai occupies was actually erected by the film crew, as were several other structures used in the film.

    --- Franklin reveals the placement of several crewmember names (and other in-jokes) in the film.

    --- Apparently, Carl Franklin has never viewed any of his previous DVD commentaries, and almost seems not to like them. He prefers to abstain from finding out how “movie magic” was created.

    --- During the aftermath of the arson sequence, real firefighters were used in the film.

    --- A lot of thought was given to Eva Mendes’ wardrobe, so that her character would appear sexy, but her beauty would not be the character’s focal point.

    All in all, Franklin does not go into a great deal of depth, where the production is concerned, but he does offer enough interesting thoughts on the film, his directorial style, and the motivations of the characters to make listening worthwhile.

    Out of Time – Crime Scene
    “Crime Scene” is a fairly straightforward featurette that provides a decent overview of the world in Out of Time, and the characters that inhabit it, via interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. During the course of this featurette, the principal cast members and crew discuss the film’s exotic, colorful look and the development of Chief Matt Whitlock’s predicament.

    Of course, as is most often the case with “making of” featurettes, the actors talk about what it was like to work for Carl Franklin, who is supposedly a very easygoing director, and he in turn discusses the professionalism and talent of his actors, particularly Denzel Washington.

    Nothing terribly interesting, just two rather intense scenes between Sanna Lathan and Dean Cain, and Sanna Lathan and Denzel Washington that end when an actor suddenly breaks into laughter.

    Character Profiles
    A folder for each of the following characters is included:
    Matt Lee Whitlock, Alex Diaz Whitlock, Ann Merai Harrison, Chris Harrison, and Chae

    Upon selecting a particular character, their dossier is opened up, and a sheet of paper appears that reveals basic character information. While this happens, director Carl Franklin and writer Dave Collard will appear in a box on said sheet of paper and provide greater background on these characters, as well as the events they must deal with in the film.

    Screen Tests
    This bonus feature consists of the reading of three scenes by Sanaa Lathan and two by Dean Cain. Although it is impossible to know how far along in the filmmaking process they were, both actors seem to have been excellent choices for these characters, as each exhibited both very solid delivery and a good understanding of their characters.

    Image Gallery
    A total of twenty-seven color behind-the-scenes and production stills are displayed over music. There are several shots of each of the main characters in the film, and a couple of director Carl Franklin.

    Trailers and Promotional Materials
    The theatrical trailer for Out of Time is included, as well as trailers for Antitrust, Barbershop, Dark Blue, and Die Another Day. In addition, MGM has included the Barbershop 2 teaser trailer, a promotional piece entitled “MGM Means Great Movies”, and cover art for five other MGM releases.


    (on a five-point scale)
    Movie: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Out of Time is a suspenseful, engaging modern noir film that features sparkling performances and stylish direction. The only things that keep it from being a truly great film are some minor holes in the plot and an ending that follows the “Hollywood” formula a little too much for my liking. Other than that, I have nothing to complain about, as the actors’ efforts more than make up for the couple of shortcomings I thought this film had.

    As far as its appearance on DVD is concerned, Out of Time is afforded a respectable presentation by MGM. In particular, the transfer brings the beauty of the film’s Florida locations, and the lovely leading ladies [​IMG] (Denzel Washington for the women), to home theater screens in a very satisfying manner. The audio portion of the disc is also handled well, and a fair amount of extras is included for good measure. If you are a fan of Denzel Washington, noir films, or psychological thrillers, you could do a lot worse than to free up a couple of hours to check out Out of Time! Recommended!!!

    Stay tuned…

    Release Date:
    January 6th, 2004
  2. Nkosi

    Nkosi Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 5, 2003
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    Thanks for the review Jason. Yeah, I heard this movie could've been marketed better. I heard it was better than advertised. Franklin is definitely an underrated director. D.I.A.B.D. was great. Thanks for the insight. I'll definitely go pick it up when it comes out on DVD. And oh yeah, Denzel is one lucky dude! [​IMG]
  3. Daniel Kikin

    Daniel Kikin Screenwriter

    Apr 3, 2001
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    Thanks for the review Jason, one of the more enjoyable movies I saw this year, looking forward to the DVD.
  4. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

    Jun 15, 2001
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    Nice review. I enjoyed the DVD which was a blind buy based on Carl Franklin's other DVDs that I own "Devil in a Blue Dress" & "One False Move". I agree about the transfer bringing the beauty of the film’s Florida locations. I'm looking forward to Franklin's next effort.
  5. R. Kay

    R. Kay Second Unit

    May 11, 1999
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    Very underrated film. Entertaining flick.

    MGM is the king of poor marketing.
  6. KamyarB

    KamyarB Agent

    Oct 12, 2000
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    Looking forward to picking this one up! Thanks for the review Jason.

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