Nick of Time (film)

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Nick of Time
Nick of time.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Badham
Written byPatrick Sheane Duncan
Produced byJohn Badham
CinematographyRoy H. Wagner
Edited by
Music byArthur B. Rubinstein
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 22, 1995 (1995-11-22)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$33 million[1]
Box office$8 million (United States)[1]

Nick of Time is a 1995 American political action thriller film produced and directed by John Badham and written by Patrick Sheane Duncan. It stars Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Charles S. Dutton, and Courtney Chase. Taking place in real time, the film follows a public accountant who must assassinate a politician in exchange for his kidnapped daughter's freedom. It was released theatrically in the United States by Paramount Pictures on November 22, 1995.


Gene Watson, a mild-mannered, separated and widowed accountant, arrives with his daughter Lynn at Union Station in Los Angeles. As Gene makes a pay phone call informing an unidentified person that his train was late, two mysterious strangers in suits, known only as Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones, survey the station from a catwalk, discussing a yet-to-be-elaborated scheme. Noticing Gene retaliate against a skater who was harassing his daughter, Smith and Jones set their sights on him and swiftly approach the pair. Showing a badge, the two strangers convince Gene that they are police officers and whisk both father and daughter into a van without justification. Once in the vehicle, Gene begins to notice things are not right and gets nervous, but Smith subsequently pistol whips him in the leg to get his attention. Smith then informs Gene that they will kill his daughter by 1:30 p.m. unless he murders a woman depicted in a photograph. He soon learns that the woman is Eleanor Grant, the governor of California, and realizes that killing her would be a suicide mission.

Once at the Bonaventure Hotel, where a number of campaign appearances are being held, Gene makes several attempts to warn people about his situation, but Smith consistently follows him around, taunts and viciously beats him whenever he does not make a move. Gene manages to find a young campaign assistant, Krista Brooks, who believes Gene's story and encourages him to report the matter to the governor's husband, Brendan Grant. Once in his suite, however, Brendan and a campaign lobbyist appear to disbelieve the story, and before anything more can be said, Smith shows up in the room and fatally shoots Krista, causing a tense scuffle between Gene and Smith. Gene awakens after unconsciousness and finds nearly everyone on the campaign, including the governor's staff and husband, are involved in the plot, with an unnamed right-wing lobbyist masterminding it all in revenge for the governor not carrying out her campaign promises to his interests.

Gene eventually finds a disabled war veteran named Huey who polishes people's shoes at the hotel. While at first he does not believe the man's story, Smith talks to Gene about the plot, believing Huey to be completely deaf according to a sign. Huey reluctantly assists Gene to get to Governor Grant's suite and advise her of the conspiracy. Although skeptical at first of Gene's story, she later notices Brendan act suspiciously about Krista's whereabouts and realizes Gene was telling the truth. Being hastened by her husband to make the last speech, the governor greets supporters in a ballroom when Gene takes out the gun, points it at a projector room where Smith is watching him and shoots at the window. This unleashes a panic in the ballroom, causing a stampede and brief shootout between Gene and the security people. Thinking that his wife is dead, Brendan openly gloats about the plot's success, only to find out in horror that she had heard everything, confirming her suspicions about him.

In the meantime, Huey stalls the armed Jones, who is in the van with Lynn after she cannot get a signal from Smith. He then annoys her with a squeegee man scheme to the point of a violent confrontation in which she shoots his wooden leg. Lynn quickly tries to get out of the van when Smith opens the door and begins to shoot at her. Right after she hides under the seat, Gene appears and shoots Smith. Ailing from his wounds, Smith congratulates Gene for becoming a killer just before he's finally killed by him. Before Jones can get a clear shot at the father and daughter, Huey beats her unconscious with his prosthetic leg and wing tip shoe. The final scene shows the conspiracy mastermind stepping on Gene's broken wristwatch and leaving the hotel in a car.

An alternate TV scene (and on some DVD versions) also shows the governor thanking Gene and Huey for saving her life.




The majority of filming took place at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, California.


Box office

A box office bomb, it grossed $8 million on a $33 million budget.[1]

Critical reception

Nick of Time received mostly negative reviews from critics. Based on 30 reviews collected from notable publications by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an overall approval rating of 32% from 31 reviews and an average score of 4.7/10. The site's consensus reads: "It isn't the worst '90s action thriller, but by bungling a story pitting Johnny Depp against Christopher Walken, the rote Nick of Time ranks among the most disappointing".[2] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[3]

A more positive review came from Roger Ebert in The Chicago Sun-Times who gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4. He wrote the film was "too contrived" in places, but lauded Depp's performance as bringing "a low-key ordinariness" and liked his character's use of intelligence rather than action film cliches to solve his dilemma.[4]


The film's score – composed by Arthur B. Rubinstein – was released by Milan Records on November 22, 1995.


  1. ^ a b c "Nick of Time (1995)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  2. ^ Nick of Time reviews
  3. ^ "CinemaScore".
  4. ^ "Nick of Time movie review & film summary (1995) | Roger Ebert".

External links

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