Written by David Collard and directed by Carl Franklin, this 2003 film stars Denzel Washington as Matt Whitlock, the police chief in a small town in Florida. He’s divorced, and secretly having an affair with a local married woman named Anne (Sanaa Lathan) whose husband Chris (Dean Cain) abuses her. Matt is eager to confront Chris and go public with their relationship but Anne is against it because she’s afraid of what Chris might do. One day, while Chris is away, Anne asks Matt to give her a ride to the hospital, she’s been sick and is getting a checkup. They see her doctor who tells them that Anne has a form of cancer and will likely be dead within a year. The only possible hope she has is an some experimental treatment that costs $450,000 and would take place in Switzerland. Well, Matt had just recently overseen a major drug bust, which including recovering $450,000 in cash. He decides to give her the cash so that she can make the trip and have the treatment.

This is the part of the story that never really made sense to me. When Anne questions him about the money, he makes some comment about how because of the rules of seizure it will be over a year before anyone would request the money. And the plan is that Ann has a $100,000,000 life insurance policy on herself, which she plans to change the beneficiary from Chris to Matt, and they’ll sell it to replace the money. Or something. I don’t know, like I said it didn’t make much sense to me. I get that Matt cares about Anne, but this was a huge risk for him and his career.

Anyway, he gives her the money, but then she and her husband apparently die in a fire at their house. The fire is considered a possible murder and so Matt’s ex-wife Alex, who happens to be a Federal Homicide detective arrives in town to lead the investigation. Realizing that if his affair with Anne comes out he’ll look like a suspect, Matt now becomes desperate to cover his tracks. Also, at the same time, a DEA agent contacts Matt and says they’re sending someone to come get that drug money right now. Now Matt has to also figure out a way to recover that money. Things get complicated when, during the murder investigation, Matt discovers that Anne never had cancer, and in fact the doctor that they met with was a fake. So Matt is left racing against time to figure out this mystery before his whole world crashes down around him.

There is some good suspense and action here. Eva Mendes plays Alex, and she and Denzel have great chemistry together, especially as it’s clear that the breakup of her and Matt’s marriage wasn’t so smooth, and there may be lingering feelings between the two of them, but that’s overshadowed by their anger. I also enjoyed Sanaa’s scenes with Denzel, and Dean Cain, whom before this I’d only known in the role of Superman, was surprisingly good playing a rotten bastard. John Billingsley also stands out in his supporting role, playing a medical examiner for Matt’s police force, he’s a sort of comical character in this film. This is a gripping thriller that keeps you hooked right up to the surprising climax.

Chacebook rating: FOUR STARS


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