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FREQUENCY

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Review by Gordon Justesen

 

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, Andre Braugher, Elizabeth Mitchell, Noah Emmerich
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: See Review
Length: 119 Minutes
Release Date: October 31, 2000

Film ***1/2

Time travel is perhaps the most fascinating illusion of fantasy that the movies can provide. From The Time Machine to Back to the Future to even Disney’s The Kid, the possibility of going back in time and making the wrong things right is something that I’m sure a lot of moviegoers, myself included, wish for, even if at times, we forget about the numerous errors in time which it might create. Frequency is a unique dramatic thriller that presents its time-altering premise in quite an original way. It presents a touching father and son relationship, and at the same time develops into a seriously involving suspense yarn about the effects of altering time to change certain events, only to allow new events and tragedies to present itself. You can call it a meandering plot, as I’m sure most critics did, but I was so into the story that I could care less if it was.

At the heart of Frequency is the father and son relationship. John Sullivan, played by Jim Caviezel of The Thin Red Line, is an honest cop in Queens. His dad, Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid), was a highly decorated fireman who was killed on the job in 1969. One night, John discovers a box containing a ham radio, which belonged to his dad. He plugs it up, and is astonished to find it working again. Later that night, he comes into contact with a human voice. After engaging in discussions about work and baseball, it is soon revealed to John that the man he’s talking to is his dad, back in 1969. They are both very astonished, as are we, that they can communicate 30 years apart from each other. But how can they trust one another? In a amazing scene, Frank accidentally burns a small portion of his wooden desk, where the radio is located, and where John is talking from at the same time. The remains of the burn show up not only on Frank’s side, but appears within the blink of an eye on John’s as well.

Such an ability will allow John to save his father’s life. He soon informs Frank about the hazardous fire which killed him, and instructs him to escape the burning building a different way. The strategy works, but it soon creates more tension for both of them, as John’s mother soon becomes the victim of a serial killer, who may still be at large in John’s time. The two then exchange information concerning their suspect, and Frank also goes out to protect the list of women that were also victims by the killer. If you take away the time changing plot device, than the subplot involving Frank and John pursuing the killer would strike no interest at all, but since Frank is in one point and time, and John is in another, and they are both pursuing the same person, it gets very intriguing as to see how this will conclude.

This a masterwork of writing and directing. Director Gregory Hoblit, who directed the engrossing courtroom thriller Primal Fear, handles this material in pure top quality. The screenplay from Toby Emmerich is a fresh one, which superbly blends touching moments with some truly intense moments as well. If anything, Frequency should be given credit for containing one of the most satisfying endings in a long, long time. I’m the kind of reviewer who appreciates such dark twist endings, such as in Arlington Road and Unbreakable, and the ending of Frequency is a twist in its own right, because I never expected to have it end on such a wonderful note. It’s likely to bring a tear of joy to the eye.

Video ****

Yet another stunning release from New Line ever growing Platinum Series of quality discs. The film, which contains both light shots and numerous dimly lit shots, is presented in a truly flawless, anamorphic presentation. Absolutely no grain, ringing, noise, or softness whatsoever. A grade A quality job that proves once again that you can’t go wrong with a disc from New Line.

Audio ****

Like many New Line titles, the audio transfer is in every bit equal to the perfection of the video quality. The 5.1 presentation is a lively one at that, providing a knockout impact in certain scenes such as the opening fire rescue in a tunnel, and a later scene in a burning building. Musical score comes through wonderfully, too, especially in the movie’s tension filled climax. A very good additional impact to a movie that already delivers a big one!

Features ****

Just say the words New Line Platinum Series, and you will be whisked away to a land of endless features (I know, cheesy as an ad for Calgon.) The disc for Frequency is of the usual brilliant New Line touch, featuring three commentary tracks. One is with director Gregory Hoblit, the second track is with writer Toby Emmerich and brother and co-star Noah Emmerich, which is insightful and at times humorously amusing, and the third is an isolated musical score with commentary by composer Michael Kamen. There’s also a deleted scenes compilation, a documentary titled The Science and Technology Behind Frequency, which runs for about 35 minutes, some animated solar galleries, a trailer, and some additional DVD-Rom content as well. A very well packaged disc!

Summary:

Frequency makes for an intriguing super-charged fantasy, and a touching drama at the same time. Suspend just a little disbelief, and you’ll be wrapped up in the story faster than the speed of light, hehe.