STARRING: Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, Andre Braugher, Elizabeth Mitchell

2000, 117 Minutes, Directed by: Gregory Hoblit

Description: Really two different--though inextricably linked--movies. First, the emotional drama of a father and son reunited after 30 years of separation. Then there's a science fiction thriller, in which a couple of chance solar storms, occurring exactly 30 years apart, can provide the agency through which the father and son can communicate using the very same ham radio in parallel time frames of 1969 and 1999. The son is John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel), a cop, and his father is Frank (Dennis Quaid), a firefighter who died on the job when John was 6, which just happens to be tomorrow for Frank when he and his now-adult son begin talking across time. This is great for John, because now he can warn his dad about the upcoming fire and avert the catastrophe that left him fatherless for most of his life. Accomplishing this gives John new memories of his life with Dad, but unfortunately alters the course of a serial killer, with tragic effect on John's family history. Since John's a cop, and the case he's working on turns out to be the same unsolved case from 30 years before, he and his father work together over the ham radio to solve the case and hopefully avert the tragedy that befell their family.

Even the best time travel stories (like Back to the Future and Terminator 2: Judgment Day) falls apart when one applies any amount of logic to them. Frequency is no exception. It is one of those movies that in order to enjoy one should put one's critical facilities into neutral while watching it.

Okay, so Frequency isn't strictly a time travel story. But it comes pretty close: a cop accidentally finds a way to communicate through time via ham radio with his dead father (a fireman) in the late 'Sixties. Obviously events in the past change as they exchange information. I mean wouldn't you also try to save a loved one from dying (in this case in a fire in an abandoned warehouse) if you could somehow alter the past? Obviously these changes affects the present as well.

At its heart Frequency is similar to the concept of sending a machine to kill your enemy's mother before he is even born. But if you do manage to change the past by killing off your enemy and he is no longer around to cause you any problems, then that you means that won't have the desire to send off a machine to the past to kill an enemy that never existed. That means that your enemy does exist and you simply couldn't change the past. And so forth. This sort of circular logic befuddles Frequency completely.

While Frequency would like itself to be mentioned in the same breath as The Sixth Sense, it isn't anywhere as clever. In fact, once Frequency establishes its own logic its eventual outcome is easy to guess at and the "surprise" ending seems more contrived than anything else does. Despite this, Frequency is more intelligent and clever than most of this year's sci-fi efforts (which isn't difficult, considering that this year's output consists of the likes of Mission to Mars and Battlefield Earth) and worth watching if you happen to enjoy time travel stories.



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