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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Timeline

Starring: Paul Walker, Billy Connolly
Director: Richard Donner
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 116 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Marton Csokas, Gerard Butler, Anna Friel, Marie-Josee D'Amours, Neal McDonough, Frances O'Connor, David Thewlis

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

In TIMELINE, Paul Walker from THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise, trades in his fast car for a fast sword when he time travels back to 1357 France. Once there, he and his friends end up fighting in a European war, as their six-hour one-way return ticket home runs out. This character-free drama is based on a Michael Crichton novel. Let's hope the book had more depth. The movie version is as generic an action film as you can make.

Richard Donner, the director of all four of the LETHAL WEAPON films, paints by the numbers as he produces a movie whose chief characteristic is that it's loud. Maybe he was hoping that, with enough noise and random mayhem, we wouldn't notice that there isn't much to the movie.

The story begins with Chris Johnston (Walker) visiting an archeological dig where his father (Billy Connolly) is working. Once Chris's dad slips into a wormhole, thanks to a sleazy high-tech company (ITC), ITC gets Chris and the archeologists at the dig to agree on the spur of the moment to go back to 1357 to fetch dear old dad. ITC's beam-me-up-Scottie device distorts their faces briefly and then, after more very loud noises, scrambles their cells and reassembles them in the midst of an active renaissance battle.

Of course, the machine blows up soon after their departure, making their return appear completely impossible. Wanna bet?

The movie's biggest surprise comes in the abilities of archeologists. It turns out that archeologists are all fearlessly brave, accomplished warriors and clearly superior fighters to anything the fourteenth century had. They are even so smart that they know how to change the past just enough, but not too much, so that the future stays basically unchanged by their visit. In short, the movie is preposterous. And with little real acting in evidence, there isn't much to hold your attention. Only the flaming arrows of an ending castle battle, set at night, has much memorable punch.

"I am beginning to find this rather tiresome," the leader of the British forces remarks to his aide. No kidding.

TIMELINE runs 1:56. It is rated PG-13 for "intense battle sequences and brief language" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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