I remember watching Nick of Time, forgive me, a long time ago. Ever since then whenever people talk about how revolutionary 24 is, I mention this movie. Nick of Time is filmed in real time, and I don’t think it’s the first one, but it’s definitely the first I’ve seen. Yet it’s not overly in your face, there’s no ticking clock all over the screen, and even without the knowledge that it’s happening in your time frame it’s still suspenseful.
You’ll be forgiven at times for thinking you’re watching a TV Movie, that’s very much the feel here and it’s just legacy of the times I’m afraid, but if you hold with it you’ll have some payback. The story is simple yet very strong, a mans daughter is kidnapped and he is told that he has under ninety minutes to kill someone in order for her to survive. What would any Father do? Exactly, he looks for a way out at every opportunity, and every time he’s foiled by his watcher.
Johnny Depp stars as the Father willing to do anything to save his daughters life but struggling with a strong sense of morality. Christopher Walken plays the man who sets the situation up and shadows him at every moment, forcing him to make the killing. Both perform very strongly, and Walken is just classic in this role, relishing the moments to turn totally crazy in a second. The only problem is that Walken sometimes just goes totally over the top, there are a few moments where it just doesn’t fit, and you wonder if he would just be drawing too much attention to himself.
The plot is great though, and there are strong twists and turns throughout. Just when you think he’s found a way out it’s closed with a dramatic crash. You’ll find yourself getting to the edge of your seat for the final acts, it does build the suspense and tension really well, and it delivers. The ending is strong, fast, and not entirely expected. Not that it’s a big surprise, but it takes you in some good directions.
At times though the use of the camera becomes so blatant it’s cheesy. It’s used to over explain certain moments, like mad zooms or repeated closeups that just don’t need to be there, the audience doesn’t need spoon fed they’ve already guessed what’s happening! There’s a lot of handheld in the film too, and at times it does get a little too much, however overall the filming is good and does help to build the harassed feeling of running with the main character.
The other noticeable affect of the time in which it was filmed is the totally overpowering soundtrack. The music tends to overtake the scenes and drown out the action, distracting you from the movie and fighting for your attention. While I’m talking about the soundtrack, the use of the echo effect is also overused, and it would end up annoying me rather than heightening a feeling.
Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
The sound is fine for watching, but there’s nothing to really take advantage of a decent Home Cinema, or for that matter of any Home Cinema. You could just as easily watch this on a Stereo TV, and I actually ended up doing just that.
Presented: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
It’s quite obvious that this is the straight DVD offering of the movie that Studios churn out from their back catalogue, checking the the sale figures to see if they could invest in a Special Edition and then re-issue. The picture looks as though it’s taken straight from the stock print without any digitisation or clean up. It’s not awful, but it’s not DVD quality.
No, I will not write down that it has scene access, that is not an extra, that’s a standard. So all we have to offer on this release is the movie itself and a trailer. Very disappointing. It would have been wonderful to find out the inside story on the creation of a real time movie, but alas no.
It’s a great story, well executed and filled with blocked turns and a few twists. You’ll enjoy it and most likely you’ll have that anticipation in the final act wondering how the lead is going to get out of this situation. However it could really do with a Special Edition treatment, a revitalised picture and audio, with a good audio commentary to boot. For now though, it’s worth a rental for the story alone.