Nick of Time

Unfolding in real time, from the moment a CPA (Johnny Depp) arrives at Los Angeles’s Union Station with his little girl to the moment 90 minutes or so later when a political assassination is supposed to occur in the Westin Bonaventure Hotel a few blocks away (the same hotel, if memory serves, that provided the climax for In the Line of Fire), this crackerjack paranoid thriller is a skillful example of what Hollywood used to do so well in the 40s and 50s, in sleepers like The Window and Don’t Bother to Knock. Working with a script by Patrick Sheane Duncan and Ebbe Roe Smith, producer-director John Badham, in his best film since Saturday Night Fever, does an able job of moving around his actors (including Christopher Walken, Charles S. Dutton, Peter Strauss, Roma Maffia, Gloria Reuben, and Marsha Mason). Despite a few lapses in judgment, this is a well-crafted exercise–and one, incidentally, that packs a pointed if unobtrusive punch about how both gubernatorial campaigns and fancy hotels are run. For my money, this is more fun than Speed–it keeps you in suspense without insulting your intelligence. Depp makes a likably offbeat action hero. Ford City, Webster Place, Bricktown Square, Golf Glen, Gardens, North Riverside, Burnham Plaza, McClurg Court, Lincoln Village.

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