johnlink ranks NICK OF TIME (1995)

I first saw this back in the mid 90s when it was released on VHS. As a teenager, I remember this being the first film I recognized as a ‘small’ movie. Simple premise: Bad guys kidnap a man’s daughter and threaten to kill her unless he assassinates a governor. The entire film happens in real-time, in two locations, and provides with single-digit lead characters. Haven’t seen this since the 90s, so I was curious to see how it had evolved.

I watched NICK OF TIME (1995) on 8.28.12. It was my third viewing of the film, and first in probably fifteen years.

Watching this again reaffirms my feeling about this movie. This is a solid enough suspense flick, a good enough little film, but nothing revolutionary. Director John Badham sure does try. He populated this movie with canted frames, with 70s paranoia-flick type zooms, with closed iris shots. He wants to make a really good film, a really intricate film. Unfortunately, the script stalls so much that the result is disjointed. Had the script been tighter, the film would have been tighter and the shots would have seem more focused. Instead, there seems to be a lot of throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks going on.

Once Gene (Johnny Depp) is given his assignment to kill the governor (Marsha Mason) by the villainous Mr. Smith (Christopher Walken), he gets himself into a hotel where the Governor is. He continuously tries to let somebody know what is going on, only to be thwarted by Smith. He goes through the same routines over and over again. Twice he makes the same cycle of going to a shoe-shine man (Charles S. Dutton), then to the bar, then to the bathroom. It becomes repetitive fairly quickly. The real-time aspect of this doesn’t work as well as, say, Hitchcock’s ROPE. It also lacks the suspense filled sophistication of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24. Instead, there seems to be a lot of meandering, a lot of time-wasting. This leads to the bad guys seeming fairly unconcerned with Gene talking to a whole variety of people. They also lose track of him quite a bit as away of pushing the plot forward.

The holes are there, but Depp and Walken drive this thing forward with a real sense of immediacy. Their passion prevents this from becoming a bad movie. Instead, it is a highly watchable affair, even if it is merely whelming. Not overwhelming, not underwhelming. Just plain whelming.

It is nice to see Johnny Depp playing an average guy in a career filled with eccentricity. Walken plays the standard bad guy, but Walken is watchable regardless. Glad I caught this again, this is an average film which I’d recommend seeing once. Just don’t go in with high expectations.





~ by johnlink00 on August 30, 2012.

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