Frequency Movie Review

The time travel/time bending genre always seems worn out. The very topic lends itself to the production of hacky movies like Millennium, and yet I am constantly surprised to see one film after another making good on the hidden promise of the genre. Witness the Back to the Future series and the powerful 12 Monkeys. As it turns out, mucking with time actually pays off more often than not!

Not only is Frequency a good flick, it's fully worthy of a place among one of the best timetwisters ever made.

Incorrectly being marketed as a sci-fi movie (not to mention poorly-titled and bearing the dumb tagline "What if it changed everything?"), Frequency is the story of a father and son, reunited across time through a ham radio and the rare appearance of the aurora borealis over Queens.

In 1969, Dad Frank (Dennis Quaid) is a star firefighter with a loving family. 30 years later, his son John (Jim Caviezel) is a NYC cop. When John, just about scraping the bottom of his life, finds his long-dead dad's old radio set in a footlocker, he plugs it in and hears a mysterious voice on the other end. As you can imagine, beyond all expectation, it's his father communicating from back in time... the day before he is about to die.

Frequency soon becomes infinitely more complex when John tells Frank of his imminent demise. "Go the other way" in that burning warehouse, and he would have lived. A skeptical Frank tests Jim's prognostications (the "Amazin' Mets" World Series being the backdrop for the 1969 action), and when the warehouse fire materializes as promised, Frank decides to take the advice, surviving the blaze.

And, er, it really does change everything.

All those geeky "what if" questions you may have had about mucking with the past are addressed in Frequency, with much of the film taking on the form of a whodunit, as father and son try to find a serial killer that crops up when Frank's survival alters the course of history. The twists and turns are fascinating and unpredictable; in fact, Frequency marks one of the extremely few times I've watched a movie where I honestly had no idea what was going to happen next.

Even more amazing is that Frequency marks writer Toby Emmerich's first script: Emmerich is actually a music executive at New Line Cinema! Director Gregory Hoblit's best-known work is probably that dog of a movie Primal Fear, and he's come up with genius here. And the acting is first-rate, especially Quaid, who I haven't seen shine in a decade. Altogether, if there is any justice in the world, Frequency should become this year's Sixth Sense.

Highly recommended. (Also of note is the newly-released DVD from New Line's Platinum Series, which contains deleted scenes, two commentary tracks, and an innovative (if cryptic) "trivia subtitle track," which throws out hundreds of useless facts about tiny details from the film. Eg. Yahoo!'s IPO price; the training it takes to become a fireman; etc. Highly worth a purchase.)

What's the frequency, Dennis?


Frequency Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: PG-13, 2000


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