starring Paul Walker and Billy Connolly
1 1/2 stars
review by Stephen Notley
Michael Crichton movies, how far you have fallen. I mean, Jurassic Park was a huge movie, one of the biggest. Then okay, sure, Sphere was a mostly incoherent mess but at least they got a bunch of big-name actors like Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone to sign on to lend cred. Now we've got Timeline, a movie its producers refuse to advertise or promote, a film whose biggest star is the guy from The Fast and the Furious who wasn't Vin Diesel. Pretty weak.
Timeline is like a guy tasked with carrying a heavy bag up a flight of stairs. He heaves it onto his shoulders, staggers up two steps and drops the bag. "Whoooo…. that's good enough," he says. Timeline is, in its conception, a large-scale action adventure movie of the sort that's supposed to come out in summer with a lot of overinflated fanfare. Instead we can see a basic loss of nerve on the part of the filmmakers; they knew this movie would never be what it was supposed to be, whatever that was.
The basic idea is that Paul Walker (the guy from The Fast and the Furious) hangs around his dad's archeological dig trying to score with a researcher girl he really thinks should be with him even though he has absoutely no interest in archeology. Then his dad goes missing and they find a note from him from 1357 in a chamber they've just unearthed. Wha--? They swiftly get on the horn with the scienctist dudes who've been sponsoring their research only to be asked to jump back to 1357 to rescue Paul Walker's dad in one of the cockamamiest time-travel capers in quite a while.
In keeping with the "Y'know, I just don't think we can pull this off" feel of the movie, there's a whole lot of no characterization for the bunch of people they cram back in time. We start out with, I think, 7 time travellers, but then two get killed by guys with swords and then we're down to… what? 4? 5? Paul Walker runs around finding Billy Connolly, the girl researcher looks for a tunnel she's pretty sure is there, and another guy runs afoul (or afair, I suppose) of a couple of cheeseball timetravel ironies.
The fact that these people are all on their own little mini-missions that aren't about anything tends to drain splendor from a production isn't all that splendid to begin with. We've seen some rather awesome assaults on castles in movies recently, so a muddily-directed sequence with lots of arrows being shot at some cheap-looking castle walls doesn’t really cut it.
Although Paul Walker is the "star", we can see a couple of half-decent character actors skulking through the works here and there. Frances O'Connor (robot kid's mom from A.I.) provides a half-decent bit of thatched-roof climbing, and Lambert Wilson (the Merovingian from Matrix Reloaded) plays a French guy with a sword. That, and the fact that it's the only film I recall to ring with repeated yells of "Trebuchet!", give this movie a whopping star and a half, ratings-wise.