Timeline loses the plot

Category: Timeline Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: February 7, 2004 | Publication: Geelong Advertiser (Regional Daily) | Author: GUY DAVIS
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TIMELINE takes a band of diligent archaeologists dedicated to discovering the mysteries of the past and shoots them back through time to the very era they are working so hard to understand. As premises go, this is a pretty good one. So why is Timeline such a lousy movie?

Well, where to start? Could it be the amazingly stilted dialogue the actors have to speak, or maybe the fact they've all directed to talk over one another in a bid to make their lines sound more natural?

It might be the fact the actors -- talented people, for the most part -- give performances that range from adequate to disinterested to just plain irritating, and that the so-called star of the show is bland, blond hunk Paul Walker. The 2 Fast 2 Furious star seems like a nice enough fella but I've seen pot plants with stronger acting skills.

Or it may have something to do with the fact that for a story that hinges on a race against the clock, Timeline's direction by Lethal Weapon helmer Richard Donner comes across as somewhat sluggish and dull; there's no pace, no tension and no energy to speak of here.

And they're just the most immediate problems! I'm sure that anyone with an interest in the scientific theories surrounding the possibility of time travel or the authentic history of the medieval era would be able to pick many, many more holes in Timeline.

Maybe that's the best way to enjoy this movie -- wait for the DVD, get a bunch of your rowdiest friends together one night and shoot it to pieces. You'll have fun, and you might just learn something too.

The story kicks off when the professor (Billy Connolly) heading up an excavation of a Hundred Years War battlefield mysteriously vanishes. The next day, his students find a piece of parchment bearing his handwriting -- carbon-dating reveals the parchment is more than six centuries old.

Seems that the professor has been sent back in time by a device developed by the shady billionaire (David Thewlis) bankrolling the dig. A small team of students and military types -- Walker, Australian actress Frances O'Connor and Dracula 2000 star Gerard Butler among them -- are then sent back to France, circa 1357, to track him and bring him back home.

Of course, there are a few complications: They only have six hours to find him or they'll have to stay in the 14th century forever, the time machine is damaged in an explosion and our heroes find themselves in the middle of a major skirmish between the English and the French when they arrive back in the past. Uh-oh . . .

Despite all this activity, Timeline still feels like a tired, tedious drag. Only charismatic Butler, as an archaeologist whose romantic view of the past is shattered by the violent reality he encounters, manages to create a three-dimensional character.

Copyright 2004 Nationwide News Pty Limited