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Customer Review

on November 26, 2000
This highly imaginative science fiction thriller is an entertaining mind bender of a film. Toby Emmerich's story takes a fresh approach to the time travel angle. Rather than having people traveling through time, Emmerich has them communicating through time using a Ham Radio that has been augmented by an Aurora Borealis. Ok, there aren't many Aurora Borealis events as far south as New York City, but there isn't any trans-time communication noted in the scientific literature either, so we need to allow the story a little latitude.
After we accept the premise, this ingenious plot incorporates many different elements to entice the viewer. There is the human angle of a son speaking to his dead father, the many twists resulting from altering the ribbon of time, and the solving of a thirty-year-old serial murder case. The various elements are combined effectively by director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Fallen) to produce a fast paced action thriller with sufficient character development to bind us emotionally to the characters. The fascinating thing about the detective story is that the facts of the crime keep changing in unexpected ways each time John (James Caviezel) imparts something to his father (Dennis Quaid) that causes him to change history. In addition, the action sequences are well done and the visual effects, especially the digitized Aurora are nicely rendered. The aging makeup is also realistic.
The acting was excellent as well, though the New York accents were pretty bad. Dennis Quaid alternated between the goofy and endearing dad and the action hero, and managed to keep it from seeming incongruous. This was a breakout performance by James Caviezel, who heretofore has been confined to minor roles. His was a very emotional and tense role and he handled it extremely well. I was also impressed with Elizabeth Mitchell who gave a vivacious performance as John's mother.
I enjoy a good intelligent science fiction thriller. Lately, science fiction has been subsumed into the horror category, since you seldom see a science fiction story that isn't an excuse to hack up some cast members. This film was more in the tradition of Twilight Zone, relying more on an inventive story than grisly effects to capture the audience. That's why I rated this film a 9/10. With luck, this will inspire a return to more creative science fiction.
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