Slight spoiler later on
Wow. Two great thrillers in as many days, I’m in heaven. This is at least 10 times better than I imagined it would be.
I spent the first twenty minutes of this movie wondering when the whole quasi-sci-fi element of this movie was actually going to kick in. You know, that awful moment like in Face / Off (a great movie, don’t get me wrong), the geeky scientist stepping in, saying, “of course … there is … another way …” Though I have to mention, it takes way too long for this movie to get going (I think I clocked it at around 37 minutes where the moment that should occur at around 10-20 minutes occurs), that particular moment bizarrely never comes, and more bizarrely, you never really miss it. The way the movie handles its most fictional element (“Let’s just say, the government has a device that lets me know what’s gonna happen ahead of time …”) almost reminds me of the Tesla stuff in The Prestige – there is no exposition to unveil it or explain it, it is just presented in this way, like, “Okay, people, listen up: this shit exists and this shit works – deal with it.” When someone actually questions it, like Denzel saying, “So how do you turn this thing on?”, regarding the equipment involved, like expecting some complex and hi-tech rigmarole, the answer comes back, “There’s an on/off switch on the back …” The whole thing is surprisingly, almost scarily, easy to take, no pinch of salt required.
There’s hints early on at the brilliant potential for this movie to address love that transcends even time itself – and that’s the only reason, ultimately, it takes a slight downturn for me when Denzel goes back in time. It kind of breaks that whole potential. Don’t get me wrong, this moment is done as brilliantly as the rest, I completely accepted it and it doesn’t come over as too bizarre a turn, not even the way some people (not me) find The Prestige stuff does … but for me, the idea of someone falling in love, even just getting close, getting a connection to a person, without ever having met them, that deserves more and those shots where it looks like the girl “feels” Denzel watching her early on are just too tantalising for the rest of the movie to live up to. And, I know, I know, it’s not that kind of movie, it’s “just” a thriller, but if you’ve seen Man on Fire, or even True Romance you’ll know Tony Scott is capable of making a thriller so much more than a thriller, and it could’ve been both. The ending pulls this feeling back big time, I for one did not see it coming at all and when I realised what was going to happen, I primed myself for tears and they came on cue.
I won’t deny the movie has its problems – it’s not just the opening that drags on too much, there are at least a couple of long stretches where it’s easily safe to tune out without missing much – the movie as a whole could easily fill the ideal length for the genre of 90-100 minutes. But I think it’s definitely worth a look, and it’s given me more of an urge to check out Domino, which Scott did between this and Man on Fire. He’s definitely a director on fire right now, that’s for sure.