Timeline

Timeline ½

I always hated this movie. Even when I was a teenager who thought Gone in 60 Seconds was peak cinema. It's definitely a bad movie, although in hindsight I suspect teenaged me was less concerned with its countless flaws, and more annoyed at everything Timeline changed from its Michael Crichton-penned source novel. (The novel is a bit overlooked in Crichton's bibliography, but I've always loved it.) But let's overlook those petty details and just assume that teenaged me was smart because the movie remains an abomination seeing it with fresh, 2021-tinted eyes.

Chris's father leads an archeology dig in France. Some historical site involving, I dunno, French and English soldiers and battle and whatnot. Chris himself isn't interested in archeology at all, but he is interested in Kate, one of the archeologists working under his father. But when his father disappears, and they end up at the corporation headquarters financing their dig, they find a lot behind the scenes that they had no clue about, namely a contraption that will send them through a wormhole, back into time, and right into the location they're digging. Which, incidentally, is where Chris's father is. So, go back in time, find his father, and return. Easy, right?

If you think that synopsis sounds messy, well part of that is me, but most of it is just the film. It's both simple and complicated at the same time. On the one hand, it's obvious all the filmmakers cared about is throwing a bunch of people into the late medieval time period and scurrying them about from violent conflict to violent conflict. On the other hand, so convoluted is the surrounding nonsense (both in the past and present) that tracking the story elements becomes tedious and chaotic. A good example of this is the little electronic gadgets that each of them is given: It shows a countdown (ie, their time limit) and a button that will return them to the present. Easy enough, except Timeline plays loose and fast with the actual rules governing its use. Then it also makes a big deal out of the time travelers losing their gadget, as if keeping inventory in our head about who has a gadget and who doesn't is how we want to watch the movie. Spoiler: It's not how we want to watch the movie.

The love story is absurd. One of those "he's interested, she's not, but he's handsy and possessive until midway through the film she's kissing him" kind of thing. Ugh. Don't watch this for the love story, unless Paul Walker's beach-perfect, sandy blond hair/blue eyed bro thing does it for you. In which case, you do you.

In terms of visual aesthetic and the technical nitty-gritty of its presentation, Timeline is about as ugly a movie as you'll see. It's astonishingly uncreative in how the era is presented, both limited in scope and wavering between "literally filmed in a random forest with no thought to what a forest might have looked like 700+ years ago" (the inclusion of a line about how it looks just the same doesn't take the edge off the laziness) and "straw shack village you'd expect out of an early 90s TV show." And why does Neal McDonough look like he just stepped off the set of a Star Wars prequel film? Maybe he was an extra and when he got to the Timeline set costuming was just like, "Eh, close enough."

And it's just fucking boring. There's a lot of initial setup—which wants you to think it's casual hanging out, getting to know the characters and whatnot—but you can tell that there's a lot of exposition happening to foreshadow various elements of the ending.

Also? All the characters are stupid.
Also? I hated it.
I hated every part of Timeline.
I'd say I want to scrub it from my memory, but then I might be tempted to watch it again.
Rather, i want to scrub Timeline completely OFF our timeline. Get it the fuck out of here. Delete it off all the servers. Break all the physical copies. Bury all the assets, ET the video game style. Yeet it the fuck outta here.

Begone, you foul thing!

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