Published Nov 01, 2003Based on the Michael Crichton book of the same name, Timeline is a B-grade science fiction flick with weak acting and virtually no special effects. The plot involves an archaeologist (Billy Connolly) who uses a time machine to travel back to 14th century France. After it becomes clear that he's stuck in the past, a team of scientists, including the archaeologist's son Chris (Paul Walker), embark on a half-baked rescue attempt.
Initially, director Richard Donner (Free Willy) spends a lot of energy explaining the science behind the film's time travel sequences and does a fair job of it (it's like a fax machine, apparently). But once all the important characters have been sent back in time, they don't have much to do except get in the way of a battle between the French and the English. The various predicaments they find themselves in all seem highly contrived. And with no real story to hold onto, improbable romances begin to take centre stage.
Unfortunately, the main romantic subplot between Chris and fellow scientist Kate (Frances O'Connor) is a total misfire. There's an alarming lack of chemistry between the two and O'Connor (AI) seems to be laughing at the idiocy of the script as she says her lines. Her character only becomes more problematic as the movie progresses.
At first she rejects Chris's advances because she is more interested in archaeology than in romance. But as soon as they go back in time, she loses all interest in history and exhibits a distinct distaste for the era she is supposed to be obsessed with. "There's one thing worse than dying here, and that's living here," she says at one point.
Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious) exudes negative charisma and has fewer and fewer lines as the movie progresses. Although things pick up toward the end, Timeline remains a good example of careless filmmaking. (Paramount)