Friday, March 25, 2011

Nick of Time

It's 1995. Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken are in the same movie. Sounds awesome, right? Nope.

Nick of Time
Director: John Badham
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Courtney Chase, Roma Maffia

Not only does it have the star power going for it, but the plot synopsis sounds intriguing. Gene Watson (Depp), an accountant, heads into Los Angeles on a train with his six-year-old daughter. Upon their arrival, Mr. Smith (Walken) and his partner Ms. Jones (Maffia) pose as police officers and coerce Watson and his kid into the back of a vehicle, at which time Smith tells Watson he has 90 minutes to kill a woman or his daughter will be murdered. Watson is handed a gun, six bullets, and a picture of the target, who turns out to be the governor of California, nearby for a campaign speech.

Instead of watching this movie, I'd highly recommend everyone go to its Wikipedia page and read the summary there. (At the time of this article, the writing on the film's page is humorous.)

There are so many issues with this film it's hard to know where to begin. Let's start with common sense - Depp is strong armed into a van by "officers" who don't tell him anything about what's going on or why he's being detained. That's problem number one. After that, he is handed a gun and bullets by the man responsible for blackmailing him, and he fails to simply put the bullets into the gun and shoot Walken in the leg/arm/head/anywhere. The woman keeping an eye on his daughter in the backseat has no weapon that he's aware of, and let's be real: who's going to shoot a kid in the head at point blank range? You really think that's going to get Depp to do what you want him to do?

My favorite part(s) of the film involved Walken (natch), but not so much the character or anything as his innate ability to appear whenever Depp was just about to let the cat out of the bag. Dumped on the street as the van peels away, Depp approaches a real cop to tell him the situation. Right as he's saying "officer," Walken appears from nowhere, threatening to kill him and his daughter if he even things about going to the cops. Depp gets in a cab to head to the hotel where the Governor is, and after a few minutes of small talk with the driver, leans up to tell him the scenario. Instantly, the cab is rammed by another car on the road; it's Walken in the van, peering angrily across the dotted yellow line. How the eff did he know exactly when to hit the cab to avoid Depp spilling the beans? One of many unsolved mysteries of Nick of Time. Depp gets in an elevator with the Governor and some security guys (keeping in mind Depp has a gun in his pocket, a glaring security error if I've ever seen one). As soon as he begins to tell the Governor what's up, the elevator dings on a random floor and guess who's there? Walken. In case you're wondering if a listening device is being used, there wasn't. He somehow just...knows.

Depp goes into a bathroom, splashes some water on his face, and realizes there's a telephone behind him. He turns to go for the phone, and Walken slides into the room, yanking out the phone from the wall and destroying it, snarling through his teeth and continuously threatening and punching Depp. After making it through a security checkpoint at the Governor's rally outside, proving corruption within her organization, Depp approaches yet another officer and just as he begins to tell him what's happening, Walken intercepts. That's at least five instances of this phenomenon (that I can remember), and they all happened - I kid you not - within the first forty minutes of the movie. Think about that. Do you know what that means? On average, one of these incidents happened every eight minutes during those first forty minutes. That kind of repetition is INSANE. What the eff is the writer trying to pull here?

As if this movie couldn't get any more idiotic, Depp meets a disabled war veteran shoe shiner who inexplicably helps him out. The climactic sequence in the film involves this man beating Ms. Jones with his own prosthetic leg, kicking her in the face with his boot and commenting "nothing like a good wingtip!" Unbelievable. Depp does all kinds of ridiculous things in this movie, including firing a gun in closed room where the Governor is in the middle of a speech, and not only is he NOT killed by security (or shot, or maimed in any way), there are absolutely zero consequences for his actions. He simply runs away. Not a single person chases him. He's not a real criminal or anything, but security doesn't know that!

The dialogue is horrible, and most of the movie is written as if a child wrote it. There is, however, one bright spot: the Christopher Walken Monologue. Nearly every Walken film has one: Pulp Fiction, True Romance, The Rundown, Poolhall Junkies...the list goes on. You know it when you hear it, and it's generally profanity filled and kind of awesome. This one is no exception, and I present it to you below for your listening pleasure (beware the language).

The thing about this scene is that it's totally different from any other bit of dialogue in the entire movie. It's as if (and I'm almost positive this is what actually happened) they realized they had cast Walken but didn't have a Christopher Walken Monologue, so they quickly wrote one and shoehorned it in.

Nick of Time is an awful movie, and even for hardcore fans of Depp and/or Walken, this is a waste of your time. Even though the movie has a strong gimmick - it supposedly takes place in real time, though I'm not convinced that's entirely true - it manages to be boring, lazy, and mundane. The only reason this may be relevant to me is as an example of an interesting concept turned to utter garbage. John Badham is a decent director (he did WarGames for crying out loud!), but if you gave my mom the reins to this movie, I almost guarantee she could have delivered a more interesting product. Until next time...

1 comment:

Kaleb said...

Wow. One of my favorite movies, and I have spoken with many people about the film - we all love it. The premise is not nearly as foolish as portrayed, and while Walken's apparent omniscient qualities are suspect, the movie has a strong storyline and great acting at nearly every turn. Some of the issues cited, such as allowing Depp into the elevator with the Governor with a gun, are explained by the fact that security is in on the plot.

Its a fun and well written review that made me think fondly of the movie, but its certainly not a warning review anyone should heed.