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Nick of Time

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Nick of Time

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken
Director: John Badham
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: November 1995
Genres: Action, Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Charles S. Dutton, Roma Maffia, Marsha Mason, Gloria Reuben, Courtney Chase, G.D. Spradlin, Peter Strauss

Review by Andrew Hicks
2 stars out of 4

As Perot would say, this is just sa-a-a-a-ad. NICK OF TIME openly rips off Hitchcock by exploiting the fact that it is filmed in "real time" (that is, one screen minute equals one real life minute -- no cutting to later that day or two weeks later), but it's all boring enough that it resembles life's real time. I've already written about movies that

are boring and padded and still only ninety minutes long and NICK OF TIME is definitely one of those. It could have been an hour-long episode of any one of the "Playhouse" shows of the 50's and 60's or maybe a half-hour tale from the crypt today.

The film opens with a giant closeup of a clock. Get used to that image because you'll see at least fifty others before NICK OF TIME is over. The director constantly and needlessly shoves the real-time thing in our faces and -- you know what? -- it isn't even accurate. By the time the movie clock goes from 12:00 to 1:30pm, only seventy-six minutes have passed. So much for the integrity of "real time."

Johnny Depp plays a CPA who is unwillingly drawn into a murder conspiracy as Christopher Walken approaches him and his young daughter in a bus station, flashing a badge and asking in his usual creepy tone if Depp will accompany him to his van. He does and, once he gets there, he discovers his daughter will be held hostage by Walken's accomplice until Depp assassinates the governor. Any attempt to tell the police or anyone else about his dilemma will bring instant death to his daughter.

So, for the next hour or so, Depp wanders aimlessly around a hotel with gun in pocket, making repeated attempts to tell people his "big problem," after which Walken will pop up and remind him his daughter will die if he doesn't kill the governor by 1:30. Soon enough, we discover almost everyone in the governor's administration is in on the conspiracy, which raises an inevitable question. If people on the inside are involved in this, why wouldn't one of them orchestrate the murder himself instead of having Walken find a guy off the street to kill her? I mean, if it was just Walken and his accomplice acting out some terrorist fantasy, it would make sense, but if the governor's own husband wants her dead, he can find a way to do it and make it look like an accident. But then we wouldn't have a plot, would we?

NICK OF TIME mixes a gimmick and premise that could have worked incredibly well together and instead drives it into the ground by showing us a lot of nothing. The whole movie is basically Depp wandering around aimlessly with Walken in the background, making sure he doesn't go to the police. And those closeups of the clock get old fast. As far as the whole time metaphor goes, I'd only suggest watching NICK OF TIME on the October night we turn our clocks back. That way, you'll only waste half-an-hour on this lifeless thriller instead of the full ninety minutes.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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