A review of “Timeline” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: * 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for language and intense battle sequences

Run Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

 

 

I got my fill of summer fare when the days were longer and the nights were warmer.  “Timeline” is a throwback to those mindless actioners that have no business being released during the thoughtful, awards-pregnant movie season.

 “Timeline” is based on the time travel thriller by prolific word-meister Michael Crichton (“Jurassic Park”, “Sphere”), chronicling the flighty mind-bending adventure of a team of student archeologists on a routine dig in rural France.

While picking and shoveling about the medieval site, Chris Johnston (Paul Walker) seems more interested in the curves of fellow student Kate Erickson (Frances O’Connor) than in the thrill of historical discovery.  When team leader Professor Johnston (Billy Connolly) unexpectedly disappears, the group discovers that the project sponsor has managed to harness cellular energy to unleash the secret of time travel.

Naturally the starry-eyed students need to rescue Johnston from the perils of 14th century feudal France.  Quick as you can say “beam me up, Scotty” a ragtag but determined crew of ostensibly quick-witted twenty-somethings is smack in the middle of the 1300s – a time fraught with medieval pungency and danger.  Not to mention perpetual wars.

I’m stating the obvious when I say that Paul Walker if awfully pretty, but can’t act his way out of a paper bag.  His vapid action-dude energy pervades the proceedings like a wet noodle.  Walker sleepwalks through the French scenery, clutching his hip sci-fi time-travel medallion and spouting the worst dialogue this side of “The Fast and the Furious”.

On the up side, “Timeline” is chock full of cool computer graphics, semi-intriguing period sets (emphasis on the “semi”), and a masterfully understated performance by Scotsman Gerard Butler as the sole team member with a grasp of French history and its beleaguered citizens.  Battle scenes are obscenely frenetic, in keeping with the action-adventure genre that just won’t go away.

Bottom line, “Timeline” is a tired thriller guaranteed to get lost amidst the cerebral and artsy offerings of the holidays.