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Outta Time (June 20/02)

With Outta Time, expelled Saved by the Bell kid Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) attempts to transform himself into an action hero for the straight-to-video set. And since his competition consists mostly of Eric Roberts and Jeff Wincott, he'll probably succeed.

Outta Time casts Lopez as a fledgling student who once had a promising soccer career ahead of him, before he busted his knee. Now, he's low on cash and his mother's working two jobs to help put him through school. That all changes, though, when a friend of his hooks him up with a job that promises to pay him extremely well. It's also illegal, as he's to run drugs across the Mexican border (his mother lives in Mexico, so getting over the border is a matter of being waved through by guards who know him). Everything seems pretty good, until he's asked to transport a suspicious looking cooler (that just happens to be nailed shut) back to the States. Before he can even think about it, he finds himself being chased by men with machine guns. Making things worse, his employer has become antsy and kidnapped his mother to ensure he'll finish the job.

Outta Time isn't necessarily terrible; it's just extremely mediocre. The acting is what you'd expect from a straight-to-video flick, and essentially recycles countless clichés from this genre and packages them in a slightly original form. The main thing that doesn't work here, though, is the film's refusal to tell us who Lopez has been doing all this for and the reason behind it. It's around an hour and 15 minutes into the movie before we find out, and the supposed shocking revelation is a complete letdown. Without spoiling anything, I can reveal that what we had been led to believe was a sinister plot with global implications turned out to be a decidedly routine scheme that in no way was indicated from the first hour of the movie. This is an organization that's willing to murder innocents (a friend of Lopez's casually wanders into the enemy hideout - even though all the lights are out - and winds up dead for her trouble), and for what? Not much, I'll tell you that.

That underwhelming screenplay is easily the weakest link here, with Lopez turning in an effective leading man performance - though there's a reason he's stuck in straight-to-video hell. He's affable enough, but his range isn't exactly varied. Among the supporting cast, Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell's attempt at playing an evil doctor proves that she should stick to her day job. As for the look of the movie itself, it's surprisingly polished (especially considering the extremely low-budget), which is no doubt a testament to the director and production team. Had they been provided a halfway decent script and a little bit more money, it's probable they could've churned out something a lot better.

Outta Time is worth checking out if you're a die hard Lopez fan; everyone else would do best to avoid it.

out of

© David Nusair