Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Richard Donner made the first epic Superman. Richard Donner gave us The Goonies. And although the series got progressively sillier, Richard Donner also helmed the Lethal Weapon movies. As such, it's fare to say Richard Donner is a good - sometimes great - director. So, where did it all go wrong with his adaptation of Michael Crichton's Timeline? Well, as a 'comeback' after five non-directing years, Dick's sci-fi adventure reeks of studio interference.

There's an enjoyable yarn in here somewhere, so it is disappointing that it fails to live up to its tantalising premise, which sees archaeology Professor Ed Johnstone (Billy Connolly) discover that the company funding his dig at a French battle site has invented a device that can send objects through time. When the Professor is accidentally sent back to 14th Century France on the eve of war, a team led by his son Chris (Paul Walker), assistant Marek (Gerard Butler) and the head of security (Neal McDonough) go back to find him before the time-hole closes.

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As is often the case with time-travel pictures, there are logistical holes aplenty to nit-pick. However, while the whole concept of 'faxing' - yes, the new take on period-hopping here is to fax people - will have you rolling your eyes, there are other hard-to-believe elements which niggle more.

The main one is in the casting. So, you've got a bearded Connolly (trying, but underdeveloped), the most Scottish man on the planet and you need to cast his son. On one hand you've got Paisley-born, also-bearded Scot Butler, on the other you've got California-oozing surf dude Walker. Who would you choose? Well, sadly this mis-casting isn't the only aspect that is hard to buy, as we're supposed to believe that Frances O'Connor (okay, but underdeveloped), as fellow student Kate, doesn't fancy Walker. Yeah, right.

Still, a pre-fame Butler is very charismatic and likeable, while his burgeoning relationship with a French noble (Anna Friel, so-so but - yes you guessed it - underdeveloped) is the most interesting arc. Villain-wise we do get a couple of good baddies - David Thewlis as the ruthless company head and Michael Sheen as a merciless English Lord. The start is fairly promising, too, as McDonough's team gets wiped out, but all this does is get our hopes up before it all nosedives into repetitive, tension-free subpar Braveheart stuff.

Massively disappointing and proof that when you combine a great premise and a talented director, you don't necessarily strike gold.

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2010
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Archaeologists travel back in time to 14th Century France.
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Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Michael Crichton, Jeff Maguire, George Nolfi

Starring: Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Neal McDonough, Matt Craven, Ethan Embry, Michael Sheen, Lambert Wilson, Marton Csokas, Rossif Sutherland, Steve Kahan, David La Haye

Year: 2003

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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