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2003 - PG-13 - 116 Mins.
Director: Richard Donner
Producer: Richard Donner, Derek Hoffman, Gary Levinsohn, Michael Ovitz, Jim Van Wyck
Written By: Jeff Maguire and George Nolfi
Starring: Paul Walker, Frances O'Conner, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Ethan Embry
Review by: Joe Rickey
An eclectic group of archeology students travel back to the Middle Ages to rescue their professor who became stranded after using a top-secret time machine. They have only six hours to complete the mission or else they too will be stranded in the turbulent time period for the rest of their waking lives. Timeline is directed by Richard Donner (The Lethal Weapon films) and stars Paul Walker (The Fast and Furious films).

As far as time travel adventure films go, Timeline doesn’t really bother itself too much with the logistics of such a paradox but would much rather be an entertaining thrill ride of a film, and, on that end, it succeeds. The film either didn’t have a suitable explanation on how the time travel device actually works from the source, not likely since the Michael Crichton novel the film is based on did, or the writers figured that it really doesn’t matter all that much in the big scheme of things. Whenever the film gives it a feeble attempt to explain how the people are able to go back in time through a newly discovered wormhole it comes across as childish and vague at the same time.

So maybe it’s best that the film doesn’t try and become a completely plausible science fiction film and instead focuses its efforts on being a fast-moving film filled to the brim with exhilarating action sequences and a refreshing lack of CGI. The film starts out giving a token description of the characters who will be soon sent back on a daring rescue mission and also sees fit to set up the almost obligatory romance angle along with establishing who likes who and who harbors hatred for whom. It is then not long before the characters are being chased by knights in not so shining armor and it is not long after that they discover that they were sent back in time to the period right before the French are to go to war with the English.

The film then evolves into an extended chase sequence as the group must outwit their adversaries when, at the same time back in the present, a cadre of scientists and engineers must figure out how to make it possible for the time machine to allow for the return of the people from the Middle Ages. Timeline is an enjoyable film because director Donner smartly paces the film and fills it with memorable action sequences along with likable characters all leading up to a stunningly staged finale that is on par with any action film thus far this year.

The ensemble cast is fine in their respective roles. Paul Walker actually is able to show more emotion than was needed in both of The Fast and Furious films combined and he has chemistry with Frances O’Conner, who ably plays his love interest and archeology connoisseur. In supporting roles the likes of Gerard Butler turn in respectable performances with Butler quickly developing a likable screen presence as he appears in more films.

Overall, Timeline is a fun action film that is easily enjoyed if one is able to overlook the time travel discrepancies.

Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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