Frequency (2000) Movie Retro Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Frequency Review

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Writer: Toby Emmerich
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, Shawn Doyle and Elizabeth Mitchell.

Frequency was written by Toby Emmerich and Directed by Gregory Hoblit. I first saw this on DVD back in early 2001 and since then I can honestly say it has that rewatchabilty element to it. The movie is quite layered and because of the altering timeline keeps you intrigued and gets you thinking.

Although a sci-fi movie a lot of the film relies more on the character development than it does its visual effects. Set between two timelines 1969 and 1999, Frequency is about the missed relationship between a son and his father. Dennis Quaid is Frank Sullivan, a firefighter who tragically lost his life in 1969 in an old warehouse fire tragedy. His character comes across as a very traditional man who loves his family and appears to be respected amongst his friends and colleagues.

Jim Caviezel plays John Sullivan (Frank’s Son) a Police Detective who with his friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich) stumble across his father’s old short-wave radio and decide to see if it still works. John ‘s pessimistic outlook assume even if the equipment still operates, the chances of finding another broadcaster in 1999 are going to be slim. Leaving the equipment for a day or two John decides to tinker with the radio one night whilst alone in his home. Coincidentally there is another broadcaster on the radio who strikes up a conversation with John and at first there is some small talk going back and forth before about baseball.

This is the first signs of where this movie is going and whilst this is happening outside there is a rare atmospheric phenomenon similar to “The Northern Lights” that appears to be interfering with transmissions in the area. This allows the audience to understand “the science” behind the connection between John and this unknown broadcaster. Just as they both begin a heavy debate on this specific baseball game John informs the other broadcaster he is referring to a game from 30 years ago, which the other broadcaster claims hasn’t happened yet. John being the Detective asks the broadcaster his license number for his radio to which is revealed to be the same number as the old short-wave radio John is using. As things transpire, it turns out John is talking in 1999 to his Father Frank in 1969.

Now without going into the nitty gritty of how this plays out, if you haven’t watched “Frequency” yet then this is just a little teaser of what is to come and it’s more enjoyable to witness as the story unfurls, so I don’t want to go right into full spoilers. What I will say is I like the way the characters are thrown into this freak phenomenon with disbelief and denial at first but also a gradual acceptance through great writing and acting from both Caviezel and Quaid. The first half hour of the movie is really just getting to know these characters and understanding their relationships. In fact, at this point the movie although has a science fiction element to it is purely drama based.

You can understand John’s angst in growing up without his father who he believes would be proud of his son’s life and his career within the Police Department. Maybe just maybe John can change things through the old HAM radio. “Frequency” really is a film based on consequence and every little action has an equal and opposite reaction. This film relies heavily on “The Butterfly Effect” and John warning his father about the warehouse fire is going to change their lives forever. For better or worse. This is the premise of John’s journey throughout the story and finding a way to fix the consequences of his actions.

This was my introduction to Jim Caviezel and I felt his portrayal of his character to be sincere and grounded. He would go on to worldwide stardom in “The Passion Of a The Christ” 5 years later but you could already see a great actor in the making. At this point, Dennis Quaid in comparison is a seasoned veteran actor and portrays his character Frank in a very old fashioned black and white way. Quaid’s bewildered actions in particular with how he is communicating with his son in the future is actually quite funny in his disbelief and justified ignorance to this phenomenon. Elizabeth Mitchell as Julia Sullivan (Frank’s Wife and John’s Mother) isn’t used well unfortunately and although I understand this film is based on the Father / Son relationship it meant Mitchell’s involvement was limited and her character is served more as a chilling key plot point in the second half of the film.

Director Gregory Hoblit manages to give the film a constant pacing. The character development and the style of the filmmaker is what makes “Frequency” and enjoyable experience. Toby Emmerich’s storytelling is interesting and impressive. Both Writer and Director allow you to root for John and Frank and loath Shawn Doyle’s Jack Shepard equally. Beneath the science fiction is an enjoyable crime drama with added dimension in allowing the story to adjust in a simple but effective way.

Overall, Frequency I feel is an underrated movie and that experience of watching the film for the first time shouldn’t be denied. My review on this movie is mostly keeping the plot under wraps as I feel if you haven’t watched this film then what are you waiting for? Highly Recommended.

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