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Nick of Time, starring Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Charles S. Dutton and Courtney Chase and is a 1995 political thriller film. It was directed by John Badham. It is noteworthy for taking place in real time.


The film opens with Gene Watson (Johnny Depp), a mild-mannered, widowed accountant arriving with his daughter Lynn at the Union Station in Los Angeles. As Watson makes a pay phone call informing an unidentified person that his train was late, two mysterious strangers in suits, known only as Mr. Smith (Christopher Walken) and Ms. Jones (Roma Maffia), survey the station from a catwalk, discussing a yet-to-be-elaborated scheme. Noticing Watson 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 Watson that they are police officers and whisk both father and daughter into a van without justification. Once in the vehicle, Watson 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 Watson 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 State Governor Eleanor Grant and realizes that killing her would be a suicide mission.

Once at the Bonaventure Hotel, where a number of campaign appearances are being held, Watson 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. Watson manages to find a young campaign assistant, Krista Brooks, who believes Watson'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 Watson and Smith. Watson 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.

Watson eventually finds disabled war veteran named Huey who polishes people's shoes at the hotel. While at first he does not believe Watson's story, Smith talks to Watson about the plot, believing Huey to be completely deaf according to a sign. Huey reluctantly assists Watson to get to Governor Grant's suite and advise her of the conspiracy. Although skeptical at first of Watson's story, she later notices Brendan act suspiciously about Krista's whereabouts and realizes Watson was telling the truth. Being hastened by her husband to make the last speech, the governor greets supporters in a ballroom when Watson 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 Watson 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 Watson's daughter, 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, Watson appears and shoots Smith. Ailing from his wounds, Smith congratulates Watson for becoming a killer just before he's finished off in a coup de grace. Before Jones can get a clear shot at the father and daughter, Huey beats her unconscious with his prosthetic leg and wing tip shoe.


  • Johnny DeppGene Watson
  • Christopher WalkenMr. Smith
  • Charles S. Dutton – Huey The Shoes Shine Man
  • Roma Maffia – Ms. Jones
  • Marsha Mason – Gov. Eleanor Grant
  • Peter Strauss – Brendan Grant
  • Gloria Reuben – Krista Brooks
  • G.D. Spradlin – The Lobbyist
  • Yul Vazquez - Gustino
  • Edith Diaz - Irene
  • Courtney Chase - Lynn Watson


Nick of Time received generally poor reviews from critics. Based on 28 reviews collected from notable publications by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an overall approval rating of 29%.[1] Based on the film's lackluster reception, it only grossed $8 million at the box office.[2]

Alternate Version of the Film[]

DHS- Nick of Time rerelease DVD cover

An alternate TV scene (and on some DVD versions) shows the governor thanking Watson and Huey for saving her life, but the penultimate scene shows the conspiracy mastermind stepping on Watson's broken wristwatch and leaving the hotel in a car.


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

Filming locations[]

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

  1. Nick of Time reviews
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mojo