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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.78%
Worth A Look35.64%
Average: 29.7%
Pretty Bad: 8.91%
Total Crap: 3.96%

7 reviews, 59 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Not This Year's (Or Any Years) Field of Dreams"
3 stars

Frequency starts out like Contact, then glides into Backdraft before settling down into what it really is. Field of Dreams meets The Bone Collector. Sure I could have said Seven instead. But that would imply that this is a good movie with a serial killer. Serial killer, you say? What happened to the nice little story advertised about a father and son talking to each other through radio waves in the past and present? My thoughts exactly.

In 1969, Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) is a heroic firefighter and a loving family man with a wife and young son, John. In 1999, John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) is a cop with relationship problems. One night he finds the source of his father’s hobby, an old ham radio stuffed in his closet, and he starts to play around with it. Low and behold the wonder that is the Aurora Borealis, John is connected to his father 30 years ago to the day, minute and second. After your standard issue doubting is out of the way, Frank and John get to have one of those heart-to-heart talks that, unfortunately, is reduced to montage format. But, at least, we’re off to a decent start. Father and son wonder if they’ll ever get a chance to speak again after this fluke of technology fades away. But as long as the Northern Lights shine bright in the sky, we’ve still got a movie. So John decides to do a little time tampering by warning his dad that he’s going to die in a fire the next day. With this new lease on life, Frank is able to avoid the mistakes he originally (or was planning to) make and survives, changing the future forever.

This is where time travel films get tricky, but Frequency still manages to introduce some fresh quirks. We’ve seen instantaneous alterations of the present when the past is twisted around, but how many bring up all the new memories one acquires to go along with the original ones. Cutting between the infamous fire rescue and a modern day bar visit with John, his old friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich) and longtime friend of the family and current partner Satch (Andre Braugher) – John is subject to an instant change. Memories we never see or hear about rush into his head while his friends act naturally, immune to the realization that anything is different at all. Now isn’t it conceivable though that by adding more time to Frank’s lifeline that Gordo and Satch might not even be there, drinking in that bar, on that day with John? Oh, who cares. It’s still a cool idea. And I would have accepted even more queries such as that if the movie didn’t start to disband at this point.

Frank and John change history so much that their lives now intersect with the unsolved murders of three nurses back in the late 60s. Frank is alive and now ten nurses are dead (with still nobody caught) and one of them is Julia Sullivan, John’s mother. But there’s still time to save her too. So, by using clues from the future, John assists Frank in the past to discover and thwart the killer’s plans so the present is all fine and dandy. Still with me? Believe me, Frequency probably works better if you don’t think so much and go in expecting the serial killer plot. This aspect of the story which dominates the final hour is so ill-conceived and standard that any emotional bond you may have been forming with the initial transmissions fades away into a routine chase plot further trivialized by the fact that we are immediately told who the killer is (and he isn’t very threatening).

Frequency doesn’t even attempt to have much fun with the time travel genre. Sure, there’s a stock tip given, but does Satch ever get anymore info about that Mets playoff series in ’69 and what would he do with that info? And for someone aware of Yahoo, it seems odd that no reference is made to the radio being an old school version of instant messaging. And ask yourself this question? (SPOILER AHEAD: Once Frank is aware of who the killer is and has numerous near-death struggles with him, is it logical to believe that he could go into hiding only to strike again 30 years to the day, hour and minute that he attacked in the same house. Wouldn’t the cops have caught up to him at some point?) Never mind. The writer doesn’t seem to care so why should we? It’s such a shame that a movie like Frequency which borrows so many ideas from other titles that it couldn’t even steal the best ones. Back to the Future and its sequels had a real heart and a sense on when and how to coordinate action with the consequences of messing with the time-space continuum. Last year’s Run Lola Run showed, in an amazing rush of photographic detail, how a single moment can effect a person’s future for the better or worse. Even It’s a Wonderful Life was able to demonstrate with much more clarity and more satisfying emotion, how a single man can alter the worlds of other. And if you must have the serial killer, at least have him play a 45 single other than Sea of Love on the record player in a victim’s apartment. That song was only a major clue in a little movie starring Al Pacino. The title of that film escapes me.

Dennis Quaid does fine work here as always, remaining one of the most underrated actors of our time. He goes a long way to selling this premise, especially in the radio scenes. But Jim Caviezel adds another accolade to his track record of underacting. This time he adds overacting into the mix. Caviezel played the constantly grinning soldier who went AWOL in The Thin Red Line and he does nothing to improve his chances at leading man status. Try not to laugh when you hear him deliver the line – “…WELL SHE MEANS SOMETHING TO ME!!!” Frequency was originally a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone and Renny Harlin and at least with that duo behind the wheel, we would have expected a more action-oriented picture. And with Harlin calling the shots, we’d have someone who knew how to build up and play out action sequences. Gregory Hoblit, who last directed 1996’s overrated Primal Fear, adds another poorly directed high concept project to his resume, bringing no suspense or mystery to the proceedings whatsoever.

Frequency ends up a lightweight version of better time travel tales. It needed more Field of Dreams sentiment and less Bone Collector cheap thrills. It forgets its own set-up which shows again that a boy’s relationship with his father can be one of the most powerful and satisfying bonds anyone can have, which is why the ending of Field of Dreams still drives grown men (including me) to tears. Frequency’s ending is more silly than emotional and it could have had the effect it wanted if it truly strived for the tear ducts, but it ends up producing nothing but dead air.

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originally posted: 04/27/00 12:00:52
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell lame as fuck 1 stars
8/05/17 Andrés Aot of non-sense 2 stars
8/31/13 EDDIED Good movie but it is illogical and follows no rules. Plus, the story changes midway through 4 stars
10/16/11 Monday Morning What's theRob Gonsalves - you're an ass, and not in a good way. 5 stars
10/29/10 Rolly Hyatt I really have nothing bad to say about this film. It's been a favorite of mine for a while. 5 stars
1/13/09 MJ Robles awesome! moving! enoyed it a lot! 3 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner Kept me on the edge of the seat! 4 stars
1/29/07 Stanley Thai A great father and son movie with suspense. 4 stars
11/03/06 AJ Muller REALLY wish I'd seen it in theaters; exciting and funny and moving - flat out STELLAR 5 stars
9/17/06 hector you have to like this movie , if you pay attention to it 5 stars
3/19/06 great excellent and enjoyable 5 stars
10/19/05 Valerie really awesome! 5 stars
2/01/05 Edward Condon I enjoyed this alot. 4 stars
12/06/04 Lee Davis Better than 95% of what's on video 5 stars
8/13/04 Tsang Ho Yin damn entertaining, much better than i thought it would be 4 stars
5/04/04 R.W. Welch Ingeniously designed. Gets to be a bit much towards the end. 4 stars
3/07/04 rory very surprized. excellent film 5 stars
1/23/04 Abe Giesbrecht Loved it 4 stars
12/02/03 tatum Passable thriller 4 stars
8/18/03 Nevz i liked it 5 stars
8/02/03 A Dude I find it hard to believe that anyone can not, at least, enjoy this movie a little 4 stars
4/06/03 123 good and thrilling, xcept for the ending 4 stars
10/21/02 snowconehead If you can swallow the premise, digest the plot, you'll shit out pure gold 4 stars
8/08/02 Kino It was a shitload better than I expected. 4 stars
7/24/02 Dannielle I Think The Movie Was Excellent And Sad 5 stars
3/04/02 Marcia Lartz A stand-out in quirky pseudosciencefiction genre. 5 stars
1/10/02 FGJ180 Good, Solid, entertaining time travel movie, although the final twist is very corny. 4 stars
6/30/01 Peter Brook Lame plot twists, acting by numbers. How can anybody like this shit? 1 stars
5/15/01 Will don't think about the issues of time travel like a geek, and it becomes a pretty neat film 4 stars
4/12/01 YelloMiata@AOL.COM My wife was a step ahead of the movie, but in a good way. 4 stars
2/04/01 rentabeast hey, what can I say, cavaziel is from my home town, and the movie was excellent. get DVD! 5 stars
1/16/01 Elvisfan Quaid gets points for playing "Suspicious Minds" in the beginning; movie was good not great 4 stars
12/19/00 Monday Morning Sci-fi/mystery/thriller/family forumula A nailbiter with well done. 5 stars
12/08/00 Girl 9 You probaly won't hate it. Would've been better if they had thought of a better ending. 4 stars
12/03/00 scott wahls most underrated pic of the year, NOT AT ALL what i expected, guaranteed satisfaction! 5 stars
11/24/00 The EVIL Penguin it can happen to YOU! 4 stars
11/11/00 budin different from what i expected but a decent movie 4 stars
11/07/00 The Bomb 69 better than most Hollywood shit out there 4 stars
8/08/00 Mic Despite all the holes and sudden switch from human drama to pathetic thriller, still v.good 4 stars
8/04/00 Viking Shame about the ending !!!! 3 stars
7/09/00 Narf Suspend disbelief, and this is one very absorbing movie. Caviezel is Oscar-caliber. 5 stars
6/20/00 Carole Weird 2 stars
5/27/00 Jaime N. Christley Forget the plot holes -- a heartfelt speculative time-travel fantasy. 3 stars
5/22/00 Obi Wan Loved it...good flim not much hype to kill it!! But they should of pushed it to June/July. 4 stars
5/20/00 mahone If you want good time paradox thrills, read Stanislaw Lem! 2 stars
5/12/00 Thayer Bush Awesome Movie 5 stars
5/12/00 David Blumgart Aw stop bitching. If you can get down Keanu Reeves as 'The One' why're moaning about this? 4 stars
5/09/00 El Tigre I enjoyed it a lot. Though I do wish someone had taken some putty to those plot holes. 4 stars
5/04/00 Caleb Toby Awesome... some areas are uncertain, but overall good plot and great acting. 4 stars
5/04/00 Blackbird I could suspend disbelief until the climatic scene. 3 stars
5/02/00 GDB Nice movie if you aren't too anal about the reality's of time-space. 4 stars
5/02/00 PhilmPhreak I liked it. 4 stars
5/01/00 MrShowbiz The problematic plot will make you wish you tuned out of this genre-wingling mishmash. 1 stars
5/01/00 Malbert I thought this movie was very cool, except for the ending and the jerky camera 4 stars
5/01/00 The Rock the plot holes and ending were bad 3 stars
5/01/00 Captain Highcrime The opportunity to get very confused very quickly exists here, plus its a long road to haul 3 stars
4/29/00 Dennis Flutie this movie is a great movie so much that i woul'd tell my friends to go and Ill go home. 4 stars
4/26/00 Jason Kallelis Wow, its just like a good moive, only not. 1 stars
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  28-Apr-2000 (PG-13)



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