OUT OF TIME Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace is out of time.
I was drawn to Out of Time, which I encountered on Amazon Prime’s recommended films for me, because of the time-travel, culture-clash plot that the blurb promised. It’s an intriguing concept: a government agent from 1951 is sent to the modern day in Los Angeles to capture aliens on the run. He has to do so with a police officer from the modern LAPD. It certainly sounds like something that could be done well.

So, does it?

Ultimately, the problem Out of Time set out to tackle is whether the police procedural aspects could be suitably harmonized with the science fictional aspects. By the end of this rather brief film, I came to the conclusion that Out of Time does not do the former quite well, but does the latter spectacularly.

This is clearly a low budget film, and it has all the problems that B-movies traditionally have. Unfortunately, the dialogue is wooden most of the time, especially when the police procedural aspect is in focus. There were a number of times I thought to myself “people don’t talk like that” and a few other occasions when I thought “people only talk like this on the internet.” This is exacerbated by the fact that the actors are clearly not professional, and further exacerbated by how the modern cop’s life is complicated by a cliche subplot that has no real effect on the actual story. I was also disappointed that there wasn’t more to the intertemporal culture clash; the director and writer, Matt Handy, could have looked to works like John Birmingham’s Axis of Time series or Eric Flint’s 1632 series for sterling examples thereof.

There is another obvious contrivance of the lack of budget, but it is one that is used to great effect. The goal here, for the two central officers, is to capture aliens on the run. There is very little CGI used in the film, so the aliens are rather incorporeal beings who move around by hijacking a series of human bodies from their previous occupants. The end result leads to something like a chase-themed take on Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, and I found it quite a clever example of using limitations to creative advantage.

It is when Out of Time embraces the odder parts of its science fictional nature that it truly shines. Handy’s characters are much more comfortable when they are discussing alien plots and time travel shenanigans than they are various aspects of policing. In particular, there is a great scene in a radio shop where the writer/director’s inner geekdom is on full display, and it is a complete joy to watch. In these scenes, I noticed the writing is better; I suspect this is because Handy knows the subject matter better.

In conclusion, I think it is very clear that Matt Handy wanted to make a cheesy 1950s-style B-movie. For whatever reason, for funding or contemporary relevance, he melded it to the present, with mixed results. We still love Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Forbidden Planet, so I certainly wouldn’t see any issue if he does something like that for his next project. I’d happily watch a film where Handy is in his element, but there are only brief moments like that found within Out of Time.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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