Noir means “black” in French. It also describes a film genre that deals in seedy criminals, violent crimes and grimy, squalid locales, all drenched with darkness and gloom. Given that definition, Banyan Key—a sandy paradise in Southern Florida—doesn’t exactly seem like a director’s first choice for a noir piece’s setting. But it serves as a backdrop for the quirky Out of Time, which The Washington Post calls “noir sunny-side up.”
And what sun there is. Banyan Key police chief Matt Whitlock has certainly enjoyed the luminous locale, along with the slow pace of the picturesque isle. But lately his life has gotten difficult. He is separated from his wife, Alex (who has become a detective with the city of Miami) and has compounded his woes by secretly taking up with the lovely Anne Harrison. Now he has divorce papers in hand and Anne’s abusive husband, Chris, on his back. Then he learns that Anne has terminal cancer. Her only hope is a regimen of unaffordable experimental treatments. Resigned, Anne tells Whitlock that she has named him as the beneficiary on her $1 million life insurance policy and she is skipping town. Why end her days with a cruel lout like Chris? But Whitlock has another idea. In his evidence locker is $485,000 seized during a drug bust that he knows nobody will look for until its previous owner exhausts his court appeals. With cash like that Anne can get her treatment quickly and easily.
As fast as the "answer" became apparent, the solution falls apart. Anne takes the dough and that night her house bursts into flames. Two charred bodies are discovered in the ruins and Alex is assigned to the case. Then rumors about Anne’s affair begin circulating throughout the community. DEA agents start calling, asking about the money that is no longer in its evidence locker. And there sits Whitlock, who alone has motive (the insurance policy) and opportunity (he was alone that evening). How many lies can he tell before someone realizes his story doesn’t quite line up?
Whitlock’s affair with Anne aptly demonstrates the truths of Proverbs 5:7-14 and he eventually acknowledges that their adultery was wrong. [Spoiler Warning] That realization paves the way for his eventual reconciliation with Alex.
A cross and a sculpture of a saint are featured in Mercy Hospital. A fortune teller’s store makes a very brief appearance during the opening credits.
Whitlock and Anne’s relationship is primarily sexual and twice the camera peers in on the two while they’re “in the act.” Whitlock gropes a bra-clad Anne and—off-screen—she performs fellatio on him (a radio call that interrupts the act cracks double entendres about ejaculation and orgasms). During another scene, they noisily go at it against a wall (no nudity is seen). Whitlock slyly mocks Chris’ sexual prowess. An officer ogles a well-endowed woman’s “rack.” Whitlock’s medical examiner, Chae, jokes about the Chief’s longevity in bed. A snippet of The Tonight Show includes a mention of women exposing themselves. Anne and Alex occasionally wear somewhat revealing outfits. A number of other women sport bikinis.
Fisticuffs between Whitlock and a suspect ends with a man falling from a broken balcony railing to his death. Chris and Whitlock brawl. Anne has a bloody gash on her face. Chris vengefully shoves Anne. Two people are killed by close-range gunfire. Bullets graze another person’s head (a bloody rivulet runs down his face) and strike his leg. A house bursts into flames and two charred corpses are glimpsed in the rubble. Anne throws a piece of pottery in anger and a frustrated Whitlock knocks over some furniture. It’s implied that Whitlock punches a hotel employee. A woman violently slams her head against a table to injure herself.
Crude or Profane Language
An f-word and about eight s-words top the list of over 30 profanities and crudities. God’s name is abused about 10 times and Jesus’ about half-a-dozen times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Whitlock often drinks beer while on duty, which seems intended to show his lack of professional discretion. Chae perpetually puffs on a cigarette and gives his liver a not-so-healthy workout by regularly imbibing beer. Whitlock, Chae and Chris tipple at a bar. Alex indulges as well.
Other Negative Elements
Anne lies to her doctor about Whitlock’s identity, calling him her brother. Whitlock resorts to everything from faking phone calls to falsifying evidence to out-and-out theft in order to cover up his involvement with Anne. Chae even jumps to his defense when he uncovers his boss’ deception. [Spoiler Warning] All that wouldn’t be as problematic if Out of Time had shown the consequences of Whitlock’s actions. As it stands, a last minute twist at the end all but obliterates any moral lessons.
An audience’s ability to suspend disbelief is a bit like the surface tension at the top of a glass of water. You can pour in a lot of liquid, even to the point where it bulges over the brim. But add one drop too many and the tension breaks. Out of Time is a taut thriller that unfortunately shatters any aspirations to realism with its overly convoluted conclusion. And in the process, story lines that might have led to a fattening of this review's "positive elements" section are kinked back on themselves. Specifically ruined are lessons that could have been learned from Whitlock���s "well-meaning," yet relentless (and self-destructive) lawlessness. Most discerning families won't be bothered by that, though. Frequent profanities, bloody violence and unhealthy sexuality will prevent them from devoting any time at all to this sunny noir.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Denzel Washington as Matt Lee Whitlock; Eva Mendes as Alex Diaz-Whitlock; Sanaa Lathan as Anne Merai Harrison; Dean Cain as Chris Harrison; John Billingsley as Chae
Carl Franklin ( )