The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect


Reviewed by: Gary Duncan

Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart star in a surprisingly good thriller from Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, the double act who brought us the dreadful Final Destination 2.

Kutcher plays Evan Treborn, a straight-A college student with a bright future. Evan seems to have it all - brains, grungy good looks, a girlfriend who turns heads on campus. But he has a problem - and we're not talking about his dodgy beard. As a child, he suffered blackouts and his mind is now a black hole of half-remembered memories and suppressed pain.

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Something bad - something very bad - happened to Evan and his friends when they were kids, a childhood prank that went disastrously wrong, but his brain has wiped the memory. It still hurts, but he doesn't know why and his friends, traumatised by the incident, can't help. Kayleigh (Amy Smart) is stuck in a dead end waitressing job, Lenny (Elden Henson) has locked himself away in his bedroom and Tommy (William Lee Scott) has done time for violent assault.

Inadvertently, Evan makes a shocking discovery. By re-reading his childhood diaries (and concentrating very hard) he can transport himself back to the past, to the very moment of his blackouts. By going back in time, he can change the future and free his friends from the trauma of that childhood prank. He soon realises, however, that time travel isn't all it's cracked up to be and playing God can have disastrous consequences.

If this all sounds like complete nonsense, then that's because it is - but complete nonsense has never been this much fun. The back to the future shenanigans are brilliantly handled, even if, at times, it's hard to keep up with the to-ing and fro-ing.

There's a clever ending, in which Evan finally rights all the wrongs of the past and future, but he's a bright kid and you can't help wondering why he didn't think of it earlier.

This is a big step up for the lanky Kutcher - it had to be, after Dude, Where's My Car? - and he doesn't disappoint. He also has an executive producer credit, so perhaps there's a lot more to come from him in that department. At this rate, he might finally be able to step out from the shadow of his real-life girlfriend - a certain Demi Moore.

For a mainstream Hollywood movie, The Butterfly Effect isn't afraid to explore the darker undercurrents of the story. Eric Stoltz plays a wholesome neighbour with a very unwholesome interest in home porno movies and baby-faced Jesse James, as Tommy, aged 13, gives a chilling turn as Evan's violently unpredictable friend.

Reviewed on: 15 Apr 2004
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Time travel thriller about a college student who gets to play God and change the future.
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Director: Eric Bress, J Mackye Gruber

Writer: Eric Bress, J Mackye Gruber

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, John Patrick Amedori, Irene Gorovaia, Kevin Schmidt, Jesse James, Eric Stoltz, Callum Keith Rennie

Year: 2004

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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