Heroes of the Zeroes: Frequency
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
There’s amusing proof of technology’s ever-shrinking shelf life in 2000’s “Frequency,” as Jim Caviezel fixes a VCR and Yahoo! is the Internet buzzword. But as with “modern” mentions of Pepsi Free and a DeLorean in “Back to the Future,” these have aged into charmingly dated details of an innovative time-crossing thriller blending “Future’s” rush with “Backdraft’s” firefighting and a dash of “Zodiac.”
Its major challenge: Generating and sustaining nail-biter thrills and believable father-son bonds from men connected across time through microphones. Screenwriter Toby Emmerich kept narrative twists and investigative intricacies sly and sharp without turning outlandish, while the leads stirringly sorted out their blue-collar characters’ confusion.
Caviezel is John, a present-day cop communicating via ham radio to his fireman father, Frank (Dennis Quaid), in the 1960s through an Aurora Borealis anomaly. When John advises Frank to avoid error in a fire that took his life, the change triggers a butterfly effect of serial murders that the pair must prevent.
Director Gregory Hoblit’s best film generates a Spielbergian fascination with the temporal drama of twisting timelines, all of it infused with as much personal drama as situational tension. Past events mourned in the present are unmade, instinct battles influence, penance and punishment are doled out retroactively, John’s future and Frank’s present reconfigure in immediate, occasionally grotesque fashion and new memories squeeze out the old ones.
Maintaining its composure before a throttle-down finish of Frank and John making others’ lives right, this popular-science thriller emphasized empathy, spirit and guts.