Watching director Ernie Barbarash’s thriller ‘Ticking Clock’ got me to wondering how often do actors pipe up during production to alert their director that some of the things that their character is doing just doesn’t make any darn sense. We’ve seen the skits where actors often ask ‘what’s my motivation’ but when is it an actor’s duty to stand up and say ‘Man, I don’t think my character, or any character on the planet for that matter would do that.’ Or maybe this actor realizes that acting isn’t a real job, say like breaking rocks is a real job, and is simply happy that he doesn’t have to break rocks or scrub the inside of toilets and just reads the lines on the page. If Cuba Gooding Jr. had stopped production every once in a while to ask a pertinent question while shooting this movie ‘Ticking Clock’, I wouldn’t have been mad at him. However it looks like Cuba just got his money and went on to his next project. Honestly, I can’t be mad at that either.
I’m going to try like the dickens not to give away this movies major plot point because it’s actually pretty cool and if you know it before you watch then there’s probably no reason to watch it.
Our film opens twelve years ago, showing us a man who we will call The Stranger (Neil McDonough) finishing up his bloody evisceration of some poor woman, followed by this stranger picking up a baby and insuring this baby that everything is going to be okay. What in the world is up with that?
Catching up to the present day we meet damaged investigative reporter Lewis Hicks (Gooding Jr.). Life is kicking Lewis’ ass right about now as he drinks too much, his current employment situation is in a state of flux, he is separated from his hot wife Gina (Danielle Nicolete) which means he doesn’t get to see his young son all that much and his hotter assistant D.A. girlfriend Felicia (Veronica Berry) has also just fired him. Strangely enough, considering what’s about to go down, these would be the good times for Lewis.
Then this stranger show up at Lewis’ estranged girlfriend’s house and proceeds to murder her up in brutal fashion, apparently upset at her choice in cases or something. Lewis finds his girlfriend all murderized, calls it in, but he also sees this stranger exiting the premises and then proceeds to try to run and him down only to get his ass kicked in the process.
Who is this Stranger? Nobody knows, but while beating up Lewis he left behind his journal which details some murders he’s already committed and forecasts a few he will commit. Plus there are some finger prints on this journal. Who these fingerprints belong to is a problem however, leaving Lewis right back where he started. The good thing for Lewis is that he knows who the future murder victims are as he races to save them. The bad thing is that Lewis sucks at saving future Murder Victims and worse still is that the police are beginning to believe he is the actual murderer considering the guy he is describing to them doesn’t seem to exist.
To be kind, there are some issues with the movie ‘Ticking Clock’. Aside from the wildly erratic pacing, the suspect editing glitch here and there and the tragic fact that they killed off Veronica Berry way too early, most of these issues that I had with this movie revolved around Cuba and his character of Lewis Hicks. If you find the murder journal of the serial killer that just gutted your girlfriend I’m thinking most normal people would turn it over to the police as opposed to touching it, studying it, fondling it and contaminating it. We also shouldn’t be so shocked that this serial killer came back to retrieve his murder journal. And if the crazy serial killer has the apparently ability to materialize in your house without opening doors, I wouldn’t be all that comfortable living there. Well, at least we have the next two names that this serial killer plans to murder, information that the police should probably be in possession of as well. But no, Lewis keeps this info to himself so he can save them himself and we’ve already mentioned that he sucks at this. It is pointed out that Louis has a bad relationship with the lead detective (Yancy Arias) but there is more than one cop on the force, such as Lewis’ best friend, that can receive information like bloody serial killer DNA samples. So say we tried to save a victim and failed. Said victim is lying on the floor all gutted up at the neck. I’m no medical examiner but she looks plenty dead to me. What I’m not going to do is check her bloody neck for a pulse. Imagine how that’s going to look, me with bloody hands, holding a gun, standing over a woman all gutted up. A woman I’ve been stalking. Yes, I’ve been stalking her to save her, but I’m the only one that knows this. And who knew that you could go to an orphanage, claim to be from a fictional outreach program, and the orphanage director will just give you a kid to do with as you please. No questions asked.
The problem is that Lewis almost has to do these stupid things, and more we don’t have time to mention, to support the big plot reveal. Almost as if this movie was written in reverse. Our filmmakers knew where they wanted go, just didn’t have a good idea on how to get there. And by the time we do get to the big plot reveal, which I gotta admit that I was dying to see what this reveal was going to be since the filmmakers did a great job of hiding their hand, it opens up a whole ‘nother can of… stuff… that we’re not going to talk about because we aren’t going to spoil it. We will say that when this plot device is used, these types of inconsistencies aren’t all that uncommon.
I’m kind of mixed on ‘Ticking Clock’ as it is inconsistent, makes less sense than most nonsensical action thrillers and it gets downright sloppy in parts. But it does have a solid cast doing good work and it did have me engaged enough to want to know what the plot twist was going to be. Cuba probably should spoke up while shooting this one, but when a guy is shooting like five movies at the same time I can understand why he might’ve not had the time.