Directed by: Richard Donner | 116 minutes | adventure, fantasy, science fiction | Actors: Paul Walker, Frances O’Conner, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough, Ethan Embry, Anna Friel, Matt Craven, Michael Sheen, Lambert Wilson, Marton Csokas, Rossif Sutherland, Steve Kahan, Julien Kramer
The intro of ‘Timeline’ gives you a real Michael Crichton feeling. A group of investigators conduct secret investigations that don’t go quite as planned and try to hide the damage. And then suddenly it turns into sentimental chatter to clarify the mutual relationships of the main characters. At the beginning it is immediately clear who is falling for whom and who is most likely not going to make it to the end of the film. The dialogue is laughable, as are the details: even in the 14th century everyone already had a radiant white smile.
The film is entertaining, but can’t prevent a ‘been there, done that’ feeling. Take ‘Kate and Leopold’ (2001), a dash of ‘Star Trek’ and add a spectacular battle (very reminiscent of ‘Lord of the Rings’) and you have ‘Timeline’. The film does not elaborate too much on the how or what of time travel and this quickly brings you to the place and time that matters: France, 1357. This makes the film just an adventure story, with modern heroes and a dash of romance .
Hollywood hunk Paul Walker from ‘The Fast and the Furious’ (2001) plays Professor Johnston’s son, but he doesn’t seem to be able to do more than be beautiful. Walker and OConner’s entire love story could have been cut out. Not that the rest of the story around the characters is that impressive, by the way. Gerard Butler also played a part in ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life’ (2003) in 2003 and apparently had no energy left to make something of ‘Timeline’ after that. Director Doniger of ITC, who sends his employees back in time without hesitation, is played by David Thewlis, who can be seen in the summer of 2004 as Professor Lupine in the third part of ‘Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban’.
For Michael Crichton fans, Timeline is a must, if not the best film adaptation of any of his books. It’s certainly not the best work of ‘Superman’ (1978) and ‘Lethal Weapon’ director Richard Donner and it won’t be a cinema hit, but it’s nice enough for a rainy Sunday afternoon.