Nick of Time (1995)

Nick of Time (1995)


Directed by John Badham

Johnny Depp …. Gene Watson
Courtney Chase …. Lynn Watson
Charles S. Dutton …. Huey
Christopher Walken …. Mr. Smith
Roma Maffia …. Ms. Jones
Marsha Mason …. Gov. Eleanor Grant
Peter Strauss …. Brendan Grant
Gloria Reuben …. Krista Brooks
Bill Smitrovich …. Officer Trust

A nick of crime?
Johnny Depp as Gene Watson in Nick of Time , original article written by Redfox

Nick of time (1995) is a curious little piece of (quoting IMDB): "Thriller[dot] Drama[dot] Crime " so, if even IMDB cant really decide which one it is, then no wonder I couldnt.

The plot goes like this: There is this guy, arriving at the airport with his little daughter. He is spotted by two villains, one of them a smart and cruel planmaker and the other one an ugly lady who probably had no other job offers. So, these badasses kidnap the girl, and give the Dad a task to blow the brains out from a lady congressman, who is doing a campaign in the city that day. The guy has a noble heart and doesn´t want to do it, so he has to find a way to warn the congresswoman and get his daughter back from the bad guys …ehhm…bad people. Sorry, that "Roman maffia" or whatshername looks like a member of Kiss without shining overalls.

The trick is, this bad guy played by Chris "The Dancing" Walken, is keepin´ his eye on JD´s character Gene Watson, and threatens to wack off the girl if Gene doesnt do everything they want him to. Gene tries to buy time at any account and then he gets the obligatory black man (that always demonstrates the production companies support of racial egalité in this type of films; they gain an extra point with him being handicapped) to help him. He gets to warn the congresswoman, she informs her bodyguard, we get a "sudden turn" and the bad guys get asskicked. The black sidekick is shown once more just in case you still didnt notice he IS there, then we get a complimentary end joke, a sentimental moment and a hug, and cut! that was perfect.

What Nick of Time seems to be, is a typical Hollywood assembly line product knocked up to fill the production companies annual production plan. Although, the plot is not too brainless at all, it lacks all sensitivity and depth that it might have (depending, of course whether it is thriller, drama, or crime film). It doesn´t seem like any of those. It is not as thrilling as it could be, because it is quite predictable. It is not so very dramatic, because it is too jumpy. It might be crime, but in a crime story I usually dont know who has wacked off who till the last moment. Here, I see the bad guy waving his weapons quite openly and getting rid of the supportin characters (ahh, you killed off a black woman and it didn´t start any protests in Harlem ? weird… I guess the black MALE is a more respectable sidekick then).

To me, it seems this is more like a video game plot, where Johnny "Gene Watson" Depp jumps around from level to level, doing his duty like a heroic little Super Mario, following the given tasks, collecting the points in the exact order the player (director) wants him to, moving closer to the treasure cave to get his jackpot (daughter) and save the world (congresswoman), or game over (bang bang, without any kisses). There are the boogeyman, trying to swallow him in corridors, and holes to fall in, and there are secret passages and helpers and wrong turns. A nice little video game, where you know where you have to get to, and what you have to do to get there. Thats the best way to describe this dry and plain interpretation of a not too crappy (or even quite witty) script I guess. The way they toss poor Gene around so lighthandedly makes me feel I and every viewer could do just the same — too bad I am not the one holding that remote. I could make this thing a tad more enthralling, so that IMDB can correct their statements and really shorten their description of this into "Thriller"[period].

Redfox, Tallinn, 12.06.06




Foyr years later, Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken again played the roles of the hero and villain in the same movie, this time in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.