- Directed by Gregory Hoblit
- April 28, 2000
A freak occurrence involving the Aurora Borealis allows a son to speak to his late father, but he unwittingly sets events in motion that create an uncertain future and now they must set things right.
The effectiveness of Frequency rests largely on a dream many of us have and that is to talk to a deceased relative one more time. It is one of those deeply human wants that we can all relate to even though we rather would not. It is through a simple act of trying to in a way connect with his late father that Detective John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) actually DOES connect with his late firefighter father Frank (Dennis Quaid) when late one night by using his dad’s old ham radio, which was a forbidden fruit when he was a child, he is able to reach across time.
Frequency also touches upon how the loss of a parent at a young age can affect a child. Ever since the death of his father, John has not been the same. Frank’s accidental death damaged something in him. It has affected everything down the line. From his relationship to his girlfriend to his personal life he is a mess through and through. There are even hints that he is a bit of an alcoholic.
Frank, an FDNY firefighter, died in a warehouse fire trying to save a squatter. He followed his instincts which had previously served him well but in that one case his instincts were wrong. When a freak set of circumstances connect the two through time John manages to warn his father but by saving Frank, John sets in motion a whole other series of events. Frequency is part fantasy and part thriller along with a little bit of a murder mystery. What started as three simple murders grows and now they must figure out exactly who is killing young women.
John’s story in the film begins with the discovery of skeletal remains that turn out to be those of a serial killer’s earliest victim. Three were known originally but by saving his father the number grows to ten. It will slip by you if you are not paying close attention, but John’s mother Jules (Elizabeth Mitchell), a nurse, saves the life of the killer (Shawn Doyle) quite by accident by simply doing her job. In the original timeline a medical mistake by a novice caused the killer to die. Jules, because of the death of her husband, was not at the hospital but because he lived she was. It is a nurse being observant and even if you do not pick up on it, it does not slow anything down.
Andre Braugher plays Frank’s friend Det. Satch DeLeon. John looks up enough to him to follow his lead (with or without his father believing alive) and join the police force rather than become a firefighter like his dad. Ouch! In the present Satch is John’s friend and partner. We also have in this movie an early Michael Cera role as Gordo Jr. who is the son of John’s childhood friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich).
Speaking for myself I found the father/son scenes very moving. I lost my dad at a young age and being able to talk to him as an adult is something I would give anything for. It is one of those things that will affect someone no matter who they are for the rest of their lives when it happens.
One thing that is mostly consistent throughout the movie is that the only person in the present aware of the alterations to the timeline is John. Frank is causing those changes so his memories are formed as anyone’s memories would be even though he is causing changes. John though finds himself with a second set of memories when things shift. The only time where this appears to be different is in the final confrontation when the killer, a disgraced cop in the present, has come to John’s house in an effort to kill him in the present while also seeking to kill Frank in the past who has been hot on his trail then because of info provided by John as both work to save Jules. It gets a little complicated there.
The killer, after unsuccessfully framing Frank and failing to kill him at the police station, comes to his house (which is John’s in the present) in the past to kill Frank as well as kill and rape Jules. At the same time he goes to John’s house in the present to kill John since he is getting close to proving he is a serial killer. In the past Frank blows off disgraced Det. Jack Shepard’s hand and in the present while he is strangling John it shrivels away. Does he know what was happening in the past and what was and what is? It looked like it.
What we have here is an exciting film with emotion and a great story. There are some jokes along the way such as adult Frank advising young Gordo to buy Yahoo stock as well as cool moments like Frank using a word burning tool to send a message to his son. That is one of the more creative uses of “note to the future” I have seen. And we get a great conclusion where the villain gets what he deserves not once but twice that also reveals not only Frank but his mother made it to the present! And none of it feels forced or cliché.
Frequency is a sweet and touching film that is also a great thriller. It has a good story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Find this film and watch it!