Tense, exciting and hugely enjoyable, Carl Franklin's thriller may not remain in the memory long, but it's a winner while it lasts.
After the Oscar success of Training Day, Denzel Washington plays another morally ambiguous cop, though his Chief Whitlock still has a shred of decency.
Which may be his undoing, when he 'borrows' $485,000 from police evidence, so his mistress (Sanaa Lathan) can be cured of cancer and escape her horrible husband (Dean Cain).
"CAN WASHINGTON RETRIEVE THE WONGA?"Soon the FBI is asking awkward questions and his estranged wife, a detective (Eva Mendes), is eyeing him as she investigates an unfortunate accident. Can Washington retrieve the wonga back before time ticks out?
Never totally surprising, this twisty-turny tale is nonetheless gripping, thanks to both the brisk pace and the star's screen presence.
Washington is wonderful, giving his 'good bloke' persona a slight twist as the charismatic but cocksure copper, a man who's never needed moral backbone because he could sell sand in the Sahara.
"OLD-FASHIONED SENSE OF FUN"As the implausibilities pile on and Whitlock's pragmatism gives way to sweaty-palmed panic, it takes an actor with Washington's in-built likeability to keep audiences interested: willingly suspending disbelief as they chew their fingertips over his dilemma.
There's also solid support from the effectively evil Cain (who must be desperate to escape the typecast cape of TV's Superman) and John Billingsley, as Whitlock's stumbling, smartmouth sidekick.
Plus Florida proves an interesting, airy alternative to the cities most thrillers are set in, lending an off-kilter atmosphere to the Raymond Chandler-esque shenanigans.
Out Of Time may not have the no-one-wins edge of the director's One False Move (1992), but it's filled with an old-fashioned sense of fun at taking the viewer for a ride. A sexy, sun-drenched film noir - count on it.
Out Of Time is released in cinemas on Friday 26th December 2003.