Retro Review: Frequency

Have you ever wanted to talk to a family member long gone?

On a cosmic filled night, 36 year old John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) accidentally reaches back in time so that he can speak with his fireman father (Dennis Quaid), who has been dead for 30 years. When John saves his father from a fiery death, he doesn’t realize that he has re-routed time and space.

The redirection evolves into a grisly course of serial murders which claim the life of John’s mother. Separated by 30 years, John and his father must solve a 30 year old serial killer case and stop the death of John’s mother.

With every time travel movie I am reminded Doc Brown from the “Back to the Future” movies. I remember that crazed character going on and on about how easy it is to unravel the space-time continuum.

It is actually amazing how intelligent a lot of those “Back to the Future” movies actually were. Basically if we were to change one little event in history we could unravel the whole space-time continuum. Or maybe not.

For most of “Frequency”, the time travel intelligence isn’t there. There are a lot of time travel elements in this film that I have a problem with. Its an interesting and heart-warming idea to have the thought of actually reaching back in time and talking to that family member or friend you lost so long ago. But the evolving time stream depicted in “Frequency” is a little out of left field.

One such problem is the fact that John Sullivan actually witnesses the change of the times and remembers all the alternate realities he has changed. Let’s say a character did have this plague. Wouldn’t he go insane from millions of differences in the 30 years between him and the event changed?

Another problem is the flash changes in history which John also seems to be able to witness. From the serial killer getting his hand blown off to the radio fixing itself to the stupid carvings in the desk.

Putting aside the time travel elements, “Frequency” has a very sincere story and a nice portrayal by Dennis Quaid. Quaid is stern and steadfast as the patriarch.

His portrayal here reminded me of the kind of actor he was in the late 80s. The ones I remember are “Innerspace”, “DOA” and “Suspect”. Jim Caviezel hasn’t shaved since “The Thin Red Line” and looks like he hasn’t slept either.

Does this reflect the dark future and bright past? Why do time travel movies always reflect back on the classic HG Well’s Time Machine concept of a darker more sinister future? Probably escape philosophy.

I would imagine the faults here are due to the inaccuracies evolved from the script. Logically, “Frequency” is a freakish film but at its core beats the pure heart of what family is. Try to tune in that part of “Frequency”.

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

Written: April 28, 2000

3 thoughts on “Retro Review: Frequency

  1. Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.

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