(US); 2000; Rated PG-13; 117 Minutes
Dennis Quaid: Frank Sullivan
James Caviezel: John Sullivan
Elizabeth Mitchell: Julia Sullivan
André Braugher: Satch DeLeon
Noah Emmerich: Gordo Hersch
Shawn Doyle: Jack Shepard
Jordan Bridges: Graham Gibson
Produced by Bill Carraro, Janis Rothbard Chaskin,
Tobias Emmerich, Patricia Graf, Gregory Hoblit, Howard W.
Koch Jr., Richard Saperstein and Robert Shaye; Directed
by Gregory Hoblit; Screenwritten by Tobias Emmerich
by DAVID KEYES
fresh toast popping out of the toaster with uncontrollable
speed, "Frequency" leaps out of nowhere and slams face-first
into a solid wall, crumbling on impact. Such calamity is
best illustrated by the stars of the movie, who are signed
to participate in a story of thrills and chills, and then
are deluded by an oncoming spectacle of illogical plots
twists and cheap tear-jerker situations. And that may be
unexpected for many, since press blurbs have praised the
film high and low, describing it as a combination of "It's
A Wonderful Life" and "The Sixth Sense." Then again, what
do you get when you mix one good thing with one bad one?
don't have a problem with absurd ideas; in fact, certain
movies essentially require them in order to work (take "Being
John Malkovich" as an example). But a story like "Frequency,"
which wants us to believe that a son and father can communicate
in different time periods using a radio, is undeserving
of such appreciation; it's aa insipid, slow, flimsy and
pathetic picture that is not only unconvincing, but incompetent
and careless. I've seen "Saturday Night Live" skits with
idea itself at least provokes intrigue. Set in 1999, John
Sullivan (James Caviezel) is a cop, who has lived with the
trauma of his fire-fighting father, Frank (Dennis Quaid),
dying in the line of duty 30 years before. One day John
pulls out an old short wave radio and initiates contact
with someone on the other line. As it turns out, the other
guy is actually John's own father, and in the year 1969
just shortly before he is killed in a deadly fire.
a brief while, the film goes in the right direction; its
premise is set up well, with the appropriate character introductions,
thickening of the conflict, and a smooth but intricate visual
style applied by the cinematographer. But things slowly
begin to unravel when the decisions of the characters take
tolls on their own time frames, and neither of them anticipate
the changes. It is understandable that John would want to
inform his father of his oncoming death in order to prevent
it, but there is a paradox that accommodates changing events
of the past, and neither of these two seem to grasp that
until after the deeds have been done. What happens as Frank's
death is prevented? John's mother is killed instead.
event, as to be expected, triggers a search for a killer,
who adds further frustration to the mystery by being responsible
for the death of six other women. Ahh, but those in the
audience who pay attention closely should be able to tell
who the murderer is simply from memory, as the suspect is
clearly (but unintentionally) exposed in the first 20 minutes
of the picture. One of the most nagging qualities of any
serial killer flick is its inability to hide the identify
of a villain well, and like "The Bone Collector," the truth
here is revealed to us long before it is to the characters.
top this all off, the movie then resorts to all sorts of
touchy-feely melodrama, in which father and son realize
what they mean to each other, and how they hope changing
events in the past will eventually allow them to have a
better and brighter future. The relationship is strong but
their nobility feels fabricated, and the film portrays its
family in 1969 as some sort of "goody goody," "Andy Griffith"-style
household. Exactly what does director Gregory Hoblit want
from us: tears or fears? In a movie that contains family
values, a serial killer on the loose, and some sort of supernatural
element that permits a man to initiate contact with his
own father 30 years in the past, the only big mystery is
how such a picture is able to adopt so many contradicting
moods and still manage to look so great.
belong to the age of new, fresh ideas in the movies, and
this film features one of the best yet. But it is, alas,
another long and dry endeavor along the lines of something
like "Dogma" or "The Sixth Sense," in which you admire the
strategy but cringe at the sloppy rendition. "Frequency"
is a prime example of seeing an intriguing idea squandered
away by a screenplay of utter stupidity.
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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