Main cast: Paul Walker (Chris Johnston), Frances O’Connor (Kate Ericson), Gerard Butler (André Marek), Billy Connolly (Professor Johnston), David Thewlis (Robert Doniger), Anna Friel (Lady Claire), Neal McDonough (Frank Gordon), Matt Craven (Steven Kramer), Ethan Embry (Josh Stern), Michael Sheen (Sir Oliver de Vannes), and Lambert Wilson (Arnaut de Cervole)
Director: Richard Donner
Okay, I watched this movie for two reasons alone: Paul Walker and Lambert Wilson. Unfortunately, Timeline is such a shoddy movie in every way that I end up deeply regretting my frolics at the shallow end of the pool. This is one of the rare movies where I have read the book beforehand, and while I don’t think Timeline is Michael Crichton’s best work, the book is much better than the movie. Much, much, much better.
Chris Johnston wonders why the girl he has a crush on, Kate, and his father are so fixated on archaeology. He doesn’t understand them as he believes history is all about pain and bad memories, or so he tells André Marek, the archaeology lecturer whose classes Kate and Chris have to attend. But Chris, Kate, André, and a bunch of disposable nobodies have to travel to 1357 to save Chris’s father when the latter gets sent back there in time when Robert Doniger’s top secret project to fax people around the place goes wrong. What happens next are ineptly filmed scenes of people running up and down in what seems like the set of a really bad medieval reenactment fair. This is a movie where people in 1357 speak like 21st century homeboys and where everything about this movie consists of mainly silly chases scenes between our gang and bad knights through the bushes. André falls for the local damsel Lady Claire and has to make up his mind whether it is worth giving up modern plumbing and penicillin for love.
The acting is wooden, although I guess good acting is too much to expect from a movie of this ilk. Come on, Billy Connolly speaks in an obvious Scottish burr but Paul Walker, playing his son, speaks in a surfer-dude style with nary a Scottish accent. But often spirited acting can make a bad movie enjoyable. Not in the case of Timeline though, a movie where everyone seems to be sleepwalking through their roles. Couple that with a sluggish grade-school script and this is a movie best watched with the volume turned off and the remote ready. Skip, skip, skip, pause only to admire a close-up of Paul Walker’s handsome face, skip, skip, skip, oh what the heck, it’s probably easier to buy a poster than to suffer through this movie.