Timeline Gerard Butler
Timeline Gerard Butler


Suspense Thriller, 2003 - 3 stars

Decent Battle Scene and Actor Gerard Butler Make This Sci-Fi Thriller Watchable

I was glad to see that most reviewers realized that director Richard Donner (16 Blocks, Lethal Weapon, Superman) was to blame for turning a perfectly good Michael Crichton story into an episode of Time Tunnel. I knew something was wrong when Gerard Butler (Phantom Of The Opera, Dear Frankie) - a talented actor - who plays archeologist Andre Marek, was reminding me of Mel Gibson from Lethal Weapon. Like so many actors before him, he was momentarily seduced by the Richard Donner “let’s forget the script and just ad lib” school of acting. I think he finally does overcome the Donner side of the Force, and turns in a good performance in the second half of the film. But there’s a lot the audience has to endure until we get to that point.

Like 14th Century English soldiers being understood by 21st Century English-speaking scientists, and vice versa! That’s seven centuries! (We can barely understand our own parents.) So the believability factor is quite low in this pseudo sci-fi thriller. It would have made much better sense to make this a fantasy film, left out all the fake scientific stuff, and gone straight to the battle and love story, which are the best parts anyway. That said, there are some problems with the historical side of the story as well. Even with all the extra features praising their own efforts at research and authenticity, I felt like I was watching a modern day Renaissance Festival, rather than real people living in a real era.

But the battle at the end is exciting. And Anna Friel (Goal! The Dream Begins, Me Without You) as Lady Claire and Gerard Butler as Marek do hold our attention as they woo each other, as does Paul Walker (The Fast And The Furious, 8 Below) as Chris Johnston, the son of the scientist they’ve all gone back in time to rescue. The rest of the cast is just okay. Even though Frances O’Connor has third billing, I found her to be too hysterical for a scientist. More Donner influence, I’m sure.

If you have any interest in science, history or good filmmaking, you may want to avoid this one. But if you don’t mind totally escapist fare, and like Gerard Butler, Anna Friel or Paul Walker, you may find it somewhat enjoyable. It has so much potential that it is a real shame Donner didn’t take his job more seriously. So this is one that someday may make a good remake.


Waitsel Smith, January 30, 2007

Text © 2007 Waitsel Smith. Image © 2003 Paramount. All Rights Reserved.

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