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Many movies depict characters repeatedly making bad decisions without facing any consequences. But such is certainly not the case for Matt Whitlock (played by Denzel Washington), whose adulterous actions with Anne Harrison (Sanaa Lathan) unleash a chain of events leaving him swimming in a sea of ramifications.
At first all seems to be going rather smoothly. Matt is in the midst of concluding an amicable breakup with his wife Alex (Eva Mendes). He is also well respected for his work as the police chief of tiny Banyan Key FL, and recently completed a drug bust that netted a wad of cash he's holding as evidence.
Yet his obsession with Anne pulls him into unethical actions after he discovers she has terminal cancer. The dying woman's only hope is an expensive experimental European treatment. Assuming the feds won't require the stacked bundles of bills for years, Matt dips into the office safe. In return, Anne makes her lover the sole beneficiary of a million-dollar life insurance policy, hoping it may eventually provide a way for him to return the money.
Needless to say, it's difficult to hide indiscretions in small town America. Anne's abusive husband is certain something is up, and so is Matt's ex. When Anne's house goes up in flames one night, the chief's world suddenly comes crashing down. With his former wife (a homicide detective working for the county) assigned to investigate the case, Matt attempts to cover the tons of evidence pointing to him as the obvious suspect.
Paced to keep your heart racing, this movie should push the thriller button for most viewers. As usual, Washington plays the type of guy we can all relate to. The audience I screened with even began talking to the screen--?Oh no!? ?You idiot!?--as they sat helplessly watching this character bury himself in a never-ending run of poor choices.
If you're thinking teen audiences could benefit from this fine example of how imprudence naturally leads to bigger problems, you're half right. But the script nullifies the other half of the consequence equation by building strong protagonist empathy and choosing to overlook penalties that would be unavoidable in reality.
This convoluted moral lesson is also tarnished with a couple of heady sexual situations in the early part of the movie that firmly establish the relationship between Matt and Anne. Later confrontations with guns result in bloody injuries and deaths, burnt skeletal remains are depicted, a man falls to his death from a high balcony, and profanities--while sparse--include a triplet use of a crude word describing sex along with other sexual discussions. A negative role model is also observed with the police chief's habit of having a beer at work.
Perhaps for adults, this R-rater that was trimmed to fit a PG-13 category, will provide a non-stop ride that's worth the price of admission. Just be prepared to leave the kids at home.
Out of Time is rated PG-13: for sexual content, violence and some language. Previously rated R in 2003.