Instead Matt manipulates faxes, intercepts calls, lies to federal officials, convinces his best friend to cover for him, chases down suspects and stolen cash and attempts to stay one step ahead of investigators, lest his good intentions lead him to prison. Out of Time marks Washington's sixth time playing a cop; certainly he should know better than to make such rookie mistakes.
Out of Time, directed by Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress), is actually two movies: One is a bittersweet love story starring Washington and Brown Sugar's Lathan as doomed old flames playing with fire behind the back of Lathan's volatile ex-jock husband, Chris (ex-Superman Dean Cain); the other is a hyperactive thriller starring Washington and Mendes as a couple reconciling over a crime in which all the evidence points to Whitlock as the guilty party. Franklin suckers us into the story of a condemned romance, then gives us a wry, tense little thriller in which a man who believes himself smart discovers he's just a schmuck. And until the last ten minutes, it's a gas.
Franklin, once a maker of thrillers grounded in the politics of race and social status, has lately given in to the giddy potboiler. His High Crimes, one of those Ashley Judd thrillers indistinguishable from the rest of her filmography, provided the first bit of evidence he had detoured off the high road. That doesn't make Out of Time any less enjoyable; it's a movie you might watch on cable some Saturday afternoon and decide wasn't really such a waste of time.
Washington is slumming. He's done this role before, and better, in such films as The Mighty Quinn, which was casual and elegant about its humor. Here, first-timer David Collard's screenplay is so enamored of its tricks and fake-outs that it never stops to consider the people caught in them. Were it anyone but Washington, we might not even care at all. The only thing keeping us engaged is his humor and grace under pressure; his Matt may have done some stupid things, but we root for him because, well, he is Denzel Washington.