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IN SHORT: A terrific SF Fantasy. [Rated [R], 120 minutes]
Have you ever had one of those moviegoing experiences where your eyes were so fixated on the screen that your hand went down into the popcorn . . . and stayed there? That you called all of your friends afterwards and told them "YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!" and when they asked "Why?," you had to answer
"I can't tell you."
If not, you are about to.
This is not a question of not giving away the ending, like last year's Sixth Sense. This is a story (screenplay by Toby Emmerich) that is so well written, with details so intricately woven into the entire piece that some idiot reviewer somewhere will feel compelled to lay out every detail and wreck the experience for you.
Not me. You get the bare bones, like the skeleton found out behind an abandoned diner in Queens, New York. Through flat out sheer luck, NYPD Detective John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) gets a match on an old dental record, showing that this girl was reported missing in 1968. The M.O. of the killer makes her the first victim of the notorious Nightingale Killer who terrorized the Big Apple and killed three nurses in 1969, the year the Mets worked a miracle out at Shea Stadium.
In 1969, Firefighter Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) is loving husband to wife Julia (Elizabeth Mitchell) and only son, 6 year old Johnny (Daniel Henson). At night, Frank likes to ride the airwaves of the world with his Heathkit Ham Radio. There's a lot to talk about on the night of October 10, for an aurora borealis has lit up the night sky with brilliant colors that had never before been seen as far south as Bayside Queens. That night, Frank reached parts of the world he had never talked to. That night, he stumbled upon another Ham radio operator somewhere in Queens, named John.
In 24 hours, Frank Sullivan will be killed in a fire . . . unless John can convince him that, for reasons unknown, they are not talking across distance. They are talking across time. If John can save his father's life, his world will be inalterably changed. He doesn't realize that until it happens and everything he's known for thirty years goes down the tubes.
Which is all I'll tell you about the first, knockdown, get on line immediately blockbuster to be movie of the year 2000. Except that Andre Braugher plays an integral part as a detective whose career spans the decades and whose path crosses both Sullivans many, many times.
And all the while Cranky sat in the screening room with a blank piece of paper in front of him and the cap sitting on top of his pen. Not a note was taken. Frequency is the kind of flick where you can't, no, you won't take your eye off the screen. It's the kind of flick that falls into the science fantasy genre and fits so perfectly with tales of time travel (H.G. Wells started the genre a century ago) and parallel universes (and no one messed with continuity more than DC Comics did in its Crisis on Infinite Earths a decade or so ago)
We walked into Frequency without our SF heads screwed on, and ignoring the press notes that explain all the intricacies and theories about the space-time continuum and all that stuff. We did have out continuity caps on, looking for script errors and discrepancies and the story moved back and forth over the thirty year time period -- and didn't see any. And while the little scriptwriter in the back of our brain was contemplating a satisfying ending, by the time it hit, it hit like the proverbial trainwreck. Frequency is an absolute smackdown. A flat out perfect, mesmerizing thriller from Gregory Hoblit, the director of Primal Fear (and the teevee pilot of NYPD Blue, after a run exec producing Hill Street Blues and LA Law).
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Frequency, he would have paid...
See it twice. Not because it's confusing or because it's so complicated that you'll miss something. See it twice, 'cuz you'll want to. You will.
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