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OUT OF TIME

Denzel Washington might just as well make a career out of playing conflicted cops. After winning an Oscar for his charismatically crooked LAPD detective in the lacerating Training Day, he puts in another kudos-worthy turn as Matt Lee Whitlock, feckless police chief of sleepy Banyan Key, Florida, in Carl Franklinís taut and funky Out of Time.

Whitlock isnít depraved, heís just all too human as he knocks back a beer on duty or slips away in the squad car for a tryst with his married mistress, Ann (Sanaa Lathan). His foibles donít get him in trouble as much as his chivalry, and when he employs unorthodox means to help out Ann with her finances and with her abusive husband, Chris (Dean Cain), his good intentions explode into a harrowing, hilarious nightmare of shocking disclosure and desperate deceit.

Franklin demonstrates the kind of black comic irony that electrified the Coen brothersí Blood Simple, and the heroís cavalier disregard of ethical principles approaches amoral cynicism. But Washington never leaves Whitlockís essential decency and resourcefulness in doubt as he tries to solve a grisly double homicide before the official investigation fingers him as the culprit. With its moody Southern setting and ambiguous hero, Time recalls Franklinís stunning One False Move, except that here the tone is more absurd than tragic, underlined by the scene-stealing performance of John Billingsley as the wisecracking pathologist Chae, Whitlockís raffish buddy and the antic soul of the movie. (105 minutes.)


Issue Date: October 10 - 16, 2003
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