|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Review: In tune across decades
Deceased father, son, reconnect over radio in 'Reception'
(CNN) -- "Frequency" grabs you in the first few seconds and never lets go. Sure, it's occasionally both corny and hokey, but the film remains enjoyable -- a father-and-son mystery with touches of the supernatural.
Even before the opening credits, you're thrown into a charged dramatic scene: Dennis Quaid's character, Frank Sullivan, barely avoids getting killed battling a fire on the streets of New York City. In short order, we discover that Sullivan is a good guy: a man dedicated to his job, a husband deeply in love with his wife Julia, played by Elizabeth Mitchell, and a loving father to his young son Johnny, played as a child by Daniel Henson.
The time is 1969 and Frank doesn't know it yet, but he's about to die. Days later, he's killed battling another fire -- this time in an abandoned factory -- leaving behind a grieving widow and his 6-year-old son.
A voice from the past
Next scene: the year 1999. It's one day before the anniversary of Frank's death, and we're in the midst of a spectacular electric storm. The deceased firefighter's son, now grown and played by Jim Caviezel, is a New York City policeman with plenty of issues involving the untimely death of his father.
While rummaging about in the home he inherited from his father, John discovers his dad's old ham radio buried in a closet. While he's casually playing with the dated instrument, a voice suddenly speaks from the old box. The voice says he's a New York City fireman who is looking forward to the World Series -- the '69 series, a matchup that took place 30 years earlier.
You got it. Through some strange warp in time and space that has created a parallel universe where Frank Sullivan is still alive, John finds himself talking to his father. It takes place on the very same day, at the very same minute, in the very same house -- but exactly three decades apart.
Talking through static as the storm rages outside, the two slowly realize they can change their family's tragic history. John warns his father about the upcoming fire at the abandoned factory. Don't follow your instincts, he urges his dad; run the other way and you'll survive.
New memories, new loss
The next day, John awakes to find photos of his father as an old man; he also has new memories of growing up with his dad. In fact, Frank has now died much later in life from lung cancer, not in a fire.
But all is not perfect in this new world: By changing one event, the two have set off a new series of circumstances that result in a string of unsolved serial killings -- including the murder of John's own mother. John now has memories of his dad, but few of his mom; she's been dead for years.
Now, father and son, connected only by radio, are in a race against time to prevent the killings -- each working in his own time, in his own separate universe.
Combining science fiction, a murder mystery, and an action movie all into one, "Frequency" is one hell of a ride. It also features some of the best fire-fighting sequences since "Backdraft," Ron Howard's 1991 film.
This extremely taut and intricate script by first-time screenwriter Toby Emmerich weaves a complicated plot that builds to a shattering climax. However, if it were examined too closely the plot would probably fall apart.
Good characters, direction
Quaid and Caviezel are perfectly matched and completely believable as father and son. Both actors deliver well-modulated and multilayered performances. Though they're rarely on screen together at the same time, their interaction is excellent.
Andre Braugher, best known for his role as Detective Frank Pembleton on the NBC series "Homicide," also turns in an well-paced performance as John's police partner helping to solve the serial killer case.
Director Gregory Hoblit, who helmed "Primal Fear" in 1996, brings a deep intensity to "Frequency." Hoblit worked under Steven Bochco on numerous TV projects before turning to the big screen; tight pacing from shows such as "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blues" is reflected in his film work.
Tough guys, be warned: This ode to the love between a father and son may make you feel weepy. In fact, this film is the male version of those movies featuring mothers and daughters struggling to maintain a relationship against all odds -- yes, a "chick flick," only with a deeper voice.
"Frequency" releases nationwide on Friday, April 28. Rated PG-13 for intense violence and disturbing images; 121 minutes.
"Frequency" is a production of CNN Interactive sister company New Line Cinema, a Time Warner property.
Review: 'Any Given Sunday' fumbles the ball
Official 'Frequency' site
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.