Ticking Clock (2011) – Review

2 Stars


Cuba Gooding Jr. returns again in yet another direct-to-DVD thriller this time reuniting with frequent collaborator director Ernie Barbarash (Hardwired). Would you kill a little boy if you knew that he would one day grow up to be a serial killer? That is the intriguing premise for Ticking Clock an odd, well made thriller with a sci-fi angle that pulls the rug out from unsuspecting viewers. Gooding is Lewis Hicks an investigative reporter not much liked by the police force nor his own family. After his mistress is murdered for her involvement in freeing a child molester; Hicks becomes engulfed in finding the serial killer also responsible for several other heinous murders. That the fugitive seemingly vanishes into thin air is one of the many troubling aspects for Hicks as he tries to present a logical explanation to police.

The story is basically a fairly dull crime story on the level of a mediocre CSI episode. I won’t spoil some of the better developments in the bat-shit crazy last act. Some interesting dilemmas are presented in the illogical and original screenplay from writer John Turman namely the murder of a child for the good of society. Gooding is solid working within the confines of a (obviously) low budgeted mystery thriller. I have joked in the past about the massive output in recent years from Gooding, comparing him to similarly prolific faded stars Seagal and Snipes. However that is not the case. The level of quality in the films featuring Gooding is far superior to anything from either other man.

Director Ernie Barbarash was apparently inspired by David Fincher’s work on Seven and Fight Club. The lighting has a tendency towards greenish hues and heavy shadows it’s an appropriate look and aides in giving the film an eerie atmosphere. Neal McDonough is stuck again playing a madman and doing it well yet after the Al Pacino bomb 88 Minutes I think he should retire the brilliant insane maniac act. I can’t recommend Ticking Clock fully because the opening hour is a messy, unfocused sub par criminal procedural. The last twenty-five minutes almost redeem all that has come before but ultimately it’s a slow slog through mediocrity until a rather brilliant twist late on. Too bad for all involved (including audiences) the first hour is so dull.

Director: Ernie Barbarash
Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Neal McDonough, Austin Abrams

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