While the twist, and what comes after, in Running Out Of Time may leave you a little divisive, I’d submit Stokes and Houston are becoming better storytellers.
|Director(s)||Christopher B. Stokes|
|Screenplay By||Chaz Echols, Marques Houston, Christopher B. Stokes|
|Date Released||8/1/2019 (Netflix)|
|Genre(s)||Crime, Thriller, Drama, Action|
|Good If You Like|
|Isn’t For You If You|
|Kristen||Sydney Elise Johnson|
|Agent Spears||Dustin Harnish|
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Running Out Of Time Plot Summary & Review
At the age of 48, Clarence Harper’s death is seen as quite the tragedy. The Chief of Staff to California Senator Conrad Toms, a presidential candidate, was poised, beloved, and considered one of the good ones. However, after his death, it seems he has left something behind. Documents which hold the power to potentially destroy or control Conrad and its assumed Clarence’s wife Brenda has them. Making her a major target.
Dolly Was Funny
Like most older women casts in films like this, Hopkins is someone’s mother with a sharp tongue and comical ways. Which may make her seem interchangeable with so many other actresses in her age bracket, but that doesn’t discount how funny it was to watch her character, Dolly, interact with Brenda’s daughter, Kristen, while she enjoys her whiskey.
Up Until The Twist, The Movie Wasn’t That Bad
The kidnappers, for a good amount of time, seemed like they were smart, violent, and presented a real threat. Not that they didn’t stumble once or twice, but with them having back up plans, it made it so as much as you thought Brenda could have, or did, get the upper hand, she didn’t. And with it becoming clear Brenda wasn’t going to be the kind of lead who suddenly can take on people with military training, and whip their ass, it felt like these may take a path not seen too often.
The Logic Of The Villain
However, then we learn who is behind the kidnappings, and things begin to get ridiculous. Especially as the villain explains how they are going to cover their tracks, and the kidnappers. From that point on, the film goes from seeming exciting to you wondering how are they going to wrap it up?
On The Fence
I Won’t Necessarily Say You Worry About Anyone Dying
This is the kind of film where you are more so attached to the actors than their characters. Not to say Tasha Smith is playing Tasha Smith and Telma Hopkins is rehashing a well-known performance, but you will not get lost in the lives and details of the characters. Which isn’t to say we aren’t dropped numbers in terms of ages, how long they lived somewhere, when a person’s dad died, and things of that nature. But when it is spoken it feels more like data being thrown out there than, as a viewer, you getting an opportunity to know the character and pass that threshold from seeing Ronreaco Lee as Cain, to just seeing Cain.
Running Out Of Time Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
I was surprised to learn this is the 4th Chris Stokes film we have watched and honestly, they are getting better. This certainly isn’t the best one, but I will say they are beginning to seem less reliant on a lead carrying the movie and seem like everyone brings value to the film. I’d also add, story-wise, while his twists and what happens from there need improvement, the setups are decent. Hell, I’d even say good.
Leading to why this is being given a mixed label. While Stokes and his team are progressively getting better, they still have quite a ways to go before you can say from beginning to end, their films are consistent in quality. And really, if Stokes and his team would just learn how to write a good twist and not have things go downhill from there, I think they’d be among some of the best urban or hood movies around. I can’t say, in terms of films in general, it would be good, but I think Stokes and co. are more so aiming to entertain than present tour de force writing and performances.
Running Out Of Time Ending Explained & Commentary (with Spoilers)
So, Clarence, being Conrad’s chief of staff, happened to have access to his financial records. In perusing through them, he learns Conrad is corrupt in a multitude of ways. He is siphoning money from the state budget, is working with private prisons and cops to get kickbacks, and is maintaining a cycle with the cops and local criminal entities to make money in every part of the system. One of the first people Clarence reveals this to is Cain since that’s his best friend. But with Cain seeing the information as an opportunity to move up, Clarence realizes Cain might be willing to live up to the legacy of his name.
This leads to Clarence speaking to Cain’s wife Pam, and they discuss leaking the information to the press – destroying Cain’s leverage. Hence how this whole kidnap plot comes up and Cain, using some CIA weapon, is able to make it appear Clarence had a heart attack when, in reality, he was poisoned. But, with Clarence not having those documents somewhere Cain can easily find, he has one of Conrad’s security details, Agent Spears, and one of Spears affiliates, Trent, help him coerce Brenda to reveal where the documents are.
Thing is, Clarence never told her so she ends up dealing with the trauma of watching Pam die, since she was a liability, as well as Trent, since he was losing it. Also, she has to deal with learning Cain, who presented himself, originally, as a victim, being the perpetrator. Then, on top of that, he pushes these plan in which nearly every single one would have Brenda willingly be the fall guy, with her family members, if they are alive, staying quiet just so they won’t have to fear being killed. However, between Trent being murdered by Cain, and Kristen killing Agent Spears as he preps to melt away Trent’s body, it seems like Cain is at the end of his rope. But rather than turning Cain in, force him to face the music, Brenda is lenient and lets him manipulate Conrad into making him the Vice President and a year later, she decides to kill Cain the way Cain killed her husband. Leaving him to die while surrounded by supporters.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- While Brenda is a chef turned stay at home mom, are we to believe she got the pufferfish toxin herself or spent that year searching the black market for it?
Is A Sequel Possible?
Yes and no. Brenda does still have the documents, since she forced Cain to make her a copy. So there isn’t anything holding her back from exploiting Conrad. Yet, what reason would she enter politics or even decide to bump someone to cook for the president? Yeah, it could restart her career but why go through all that and find herself looking over her shoulder? Wasn’t one of the main points of killing Cain so that, in case he ever got paranoid or stupid, he wouldn’t kill her to get rid of a loose end?