Frequency

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Frequency

There's no such thing as a by-the-book son-and-dead-father-communicating-across-a-gap-of-30-years-via-Ham-radio movie, so why does Frequency feel like one? Directed by Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Fallen), the film stars The Thin Red Line's Jim Caviezel as a heavy-drinking New York cop who, after breaking up with his girlfriend during a radio-wave-altering eruption of sunspots, begins communicating with dead fireman father Dennis Quaid through Quaid's long-neglected Ham system. After warning Quaid away from the accident that killed him in 1969, Caviezel discovers that he's disrupted history in such a way that his mother (Elizabeth Mitchell) dies instead, falling victim to a nurse-happy serial killer. Working across the portal of time, Caviezel and Quaid plot to stop the killings, a development that saps Frequency of much that makes it compelling, allowing it to morph into a fairly familiar suspense thriller. As such, it's far from horrible, but it's a shame that so much is left unexploited. As science fiction and as human drama, Frequency ignores most of the intriguing possibilities of trans-decade communication and squanders appealing performances by Quaid and Caviezel, whose believable relationship deserves better. Screenwriter Tobias Emmerich (whose brother Noah has a small part) and Hoblit remain content to take the easy way out whenever possible, opting for fistfights and explosions when more cerebral and emotional options seem both in order and readily at hand. A final, moving twist only serves as a reminder of the film Frequency could have been.