Timely Performances Save A Far-fetched Story

Category: Timeline Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: February 8, 2004 | Publication: Sun Herald (Sydney) | Author: Rob Lowing
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STOP the presses! Here's a warning to adults rushing off to see Timeline.

This is a very simplistic version of the time-hopping adventure by best-selling author Michael Crichton .

The page-turning plot stays intact and delivers solid action on the big screen. But the broad-strokes characters and dialogue are definitely teenage-sized. One hint is the presence of likeable but unsubtle Paul Walker, star of The Fast And The Furious car flicks.

Other hints include inane dialogue, with four-letter words and close-ups of dropped jaws repeatedly used to indicate concern. Adult viewers will roll their eyes at scientists who shriek over every little find.

The team of Professor Edward Johnston (Connolly) shrieks non-stop when members Kate (O'Connor) and Andre (Butler) uncover an ancient crypt in the ruins of a French medieval village.

But jubilation sours when the professor disappears after meeting the ruthless manager (David Thewlis ) of a corporation dabbling in teleporting technology. Johnston's son Chris (Walker) is horrified to discover that, via a wormhole in space, his father has been "faxed" to the past.

The prof has been broken down into electrons and reassembled in 14th century France.

(Hey, we don't make up these plots, we just report 'em).

Chris joins Kate, Andre and three marines on a mission to retrieve his dad. Instead, the time travellers land in the middle of a vicious clash between English invaders and French locals.

Author Crichton is master of the sensational plot hook. He has had a dream run with successful movie versions of his novels Jurassic Park (dinosaurs attack), Rising Sun (Japanese attack) and Disclosure (female bosses attack).

The ungainly logic-bending approach of Timeline will make your head hurt but it is a lightly entertaining film.

Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner rarely slackens from a cracking pace. The lengthy battle is suspenseful and visually arresting, thanks to authentic-looking weaponry from Braveheart armourer Simon Atherton .

The big screen is well used, with images of castles in picturesque countryside and a dramatic night attack with flaming arrows and boulders.

Donner treats the melodrama with a brisk efficiency which probably makes the film less silly than it is. However, don't be surprised if sniggers are heard during the Star Trek-ish teleporting scenes.

Logic is also absent, with strangers who can understand one another's regional language. And you can rely on Hollywood to include a shot of characters leaping away from a fiery explosion.

The actors are committed in the face of ripe dialogue. Australian O'Connor and Englishman Thewlis (Naked ) assume fruity American accents to deliver bland performances.

The big plus is the support cast. Connolly has such a credible screen presence that, like Sean Connery, he makes even hairy plot twists seem convincing. Butler single-handedly sustained the cheesy Attila miniseries. Scheduled for the lead in the coming The Phantom Of The Opera movie, Butler's dashing hero will cheer up adult viewers here.

Copyright 2004 John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd