Frequency (2000)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: A tight blend of surprises and suspense keeps audiences spellbound.


Movie Info

What if you had the chance to travel back in time and change just one event in your life? What would it be? For John Sullivan, there is no question. He would undo the events of October 12, 1969, when the out-of-control Bruxton fire took the life of his father, a heroic firefighter. Ever since he was a kid, John dreamed of being able to stop the tragedy of that fateful day, which set into motion the anger and loneliness that have haunted his adult life as a cop in the 1990s. Now John may get … More

Rating: PG-13 (for intense violence and disturbing images)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Toby Emmerich
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 31, 2000
Runtime:
New Line Cinema - Official Site

Cast


as Frank Sullivan

as Jack Shepard

as Satch DeLeon

as Julia Sullivan

as Gordo Hersch

as Samantha Thomas

as Johnny Sullivan (age...

as Graham Gibson

as Gordo Hersch (age 8)

as Commander O'Connell

as Butch Foster

as John Sullivan

as Gordie Jr. (age 10)

as Sissy Clark

as Chuck Hayes

as Fred Shepard

as Laura Shepard

as Teenage Runaway

as Carrie Reynolds

as Daryl Adams

as Mrs. Finelli

as Himself

as Himself

as Linda Hersch

as Con Ed Supervisor

as Con Ed Worker No. 1

as Con Ed Worker No. 2

as Stoned Teenage Girl

as Young Intern

as Lounge Bartender

as Roof Man Billy

as Pedestal Man Gino

as Lanni DeLeon

as Desk Sergeant

as Stoned Man No. 1

as Cozy Bartender

as Young Woman No. 1

as Young Woman No. 2

as Forensic Tech Hector

as Uniformed Cop No. 1

as Uniformed Cop No. 2

as Bar Waitress

as Frank Jr.
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Frequency

All Critics (128) | Top Critics (31)

Quaid's buoyant earnestness complements the stunning, low-key performance by Caviezel, whose close-ups give new meaning to the idea that still waters run deep.

Full Review… | June 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This ambitious but frustrating timeshift thriller never quite manages to jam together two distinct stories.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Why gripe about a few minor inconsistencies? Just relax and enjoy the show.

Full Review… | July 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Features plenty of soft-focus, picture-perfect, father-and-son baseball scenes, an enormous amount of plot, and not quite enough of anything else.

Full Review… | December 31, 2003
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A fairly wonderful movie about fathers and sons and the mystery of time.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Movies sometimes end up looking like a head-on collision between opposing impulses. Frequency is that kind of movie.

Full Review… | March 19, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Frequency

½

What If You Could Reach Back In Time? What If You Could Change The Past?

I can't believe I hadn't seen this movie before. Simply Amazing! Probably James Caviezel and Dennis Quaid best films.The movie deals very well with how they change the future back and forth. The plot is very good, the acting is superb and the characters are all believable. The special effects are very good. The very idea behind the film is very good, but the way it develops so much further is amazing. The ending, while it may seem corny too some, to me was just perfect! Recommended for everyone!


It is 1969. Frank Sullivan is a New York City firefighter, and a devoted husband and father. His wife, Julia, is a nurse who works at a local hospital. His son, John, is six years old; Frank calls him Little Chief. They share a passion for baseball, especially the Amazing Mets, and plan to watch the 1969 World Series together on TV. Frank's best friend is an African-American cop named Satch; John's is a boy his own age named Gordo. When not fighting fires and spending time with his family, Frank's hobby is ham radio.

Fast-forward to 1999. John is now a New York City policeman; Satch is either his supervisor or his partner. Gordo is still his best friend, but is now married. John is still single, and his girlfriend has just walked out on him. He still lives in the family home in Queens; his mother lives nearby and still works as a nurse, but his father has been dead for 30 years, killed while fighting a warehouse fire. The thirtieth anniversary of that tragedy is coming up, and Julie, Satch, and Gordo are all aware of how hard that is on John.

John and Satch are currently occupied with a case called the Nightingale murders, where three nurses were murdered by a serial killer in 1968 and 1969. The case was never solved, but one of the bodies has just been found, and the investigation has been reopened. As part of the investigation, John visits and interviews an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Shepard, who live near where the body was discovered. Mrs. Shepard is a retired nurse. They had a son, Jack, a New York City policeman, who, like John's father, died 30 years ago.

What no one realizes yet is that Jack Shepard was the Nightingale murderer, and he died the same night as Frank Sullivan. For reasons not made clear, he was a patient in the hospital where Julia Sullivan was working. Julia administered some medication and made a notation on his chart. Later that evening she learned of her husband's death and left work early. Later still, a doctor, failing to check the chart, administered some medication to Shepard incompatible with the medication Julia had administered, and the combination killed him.

While Gordo and his family are visiting, they find Frank's old ham radio and set it up. After Gordo and crew leave, John begins to try out the radio, and through a strange atmospheric phenomenon, contacts his father thirty years in the past. Both are skeptical at first; John thinks it is Gordo playing a joke, while Frank thinks it is someone planning to do his family harm and becomes somewhat angry. John is the first to realize that he is actually talking to his father through time, and tries unsuccessfully to convince him. In the process, he describes the outcome of the first World Series game, which in Frank's time is to take place the next day. He also warns him that he is about to die in a warehouse fire, gives the name of the warehouse, and tells him that he died because he followed his instincts, but if he had gone the other way he would have made it.

Afterwards, Frank remains skeptical, but he can't help but notice the next day that the World Series game goes exactly as the man purporting to be his son said it would. Then he is called to a fire, and it turns out to be exactly the same warehouse in which the man purporting to be his son said he died. Trapped on the top floor of the inferno, he is trying to take what seems to be the only sensible escape route, when he remembers John's words that if he had gone the other way he would have made it. He turns around and goes the opposite way, and survives.

Back in 1999, John is out drinking with Satch and Gordo, who are trying to help him get through the difficult thirtieth anniversary. John begins to have a muddle of conflicting memories, including those of later childhood and adolescence and even his early years on the police force, with his father there. He tells his friends, as though realizing it for the first time (which he is), that his father didn't die in a fire. They look at him incredulously; they all know that Frank died of lung cancer just ten years ago.

John discovers that he has two sets of memories. He can remember life with his father subsequent to the fire, but he also remembers what life was like when he believed that his father had been killed thirty years before. This is not true of anyone else. Satch and Gordo, for example, have changed instantly, suddenly having no recollection of Frank having died in a fire; it is as though they have always known that he lived another twenty years and died ten years ago.

Later that evening, John makes contact with his father again. This time there is no skepticism on Frank's part, and they spend some time getting reacquainted. Later, Frank, excited just to be alive, visits Julia at the hospital. While they are talking, she spots the doctor about to administer medication to a patient to whom she had given different medication earlier, points out his error, and so saves Jack Shepard's life.

That night (in 1999), John is haunted by still another set of new memories, this time of attending a funeral with his father, without his mother. The next day he discovers that his mother simply does not exist anymore. At work, the Nightingale case suddenly involves ten victims instead of three (Satch cannot understand why John would think it had ever been just three), and John discovers to his horror that one of the victims was his mother.

That night John explains to his father what has happened, and tells him that he must stop the killer before it is Julia's turn to be murdered. Their hope is that Frank, armed with details of each murder before it happens, will be able to prevent the murders and catch the killer. On the night of the next murder, Frank goes to a bar, strikes up a conversation with the victim and effectively keeps her from leaving. And back in 1999, John discovers the next day that there were only nine murders and the file from which he had gotten the information for his father is no longer there.

However, the following night (in 1969), as Frank tries to follow the next victim from a bar, Shepard recognizes him from the night before, jumps him, goes through his wallet and takes his drivers license, and ties him up. Frank eventually gets free and goes to the victim's apartment, breaks in (and is noticed doing so by a neighbor), and discovers her dead.

Frank explains to John what has happened, and John tells him to hide the wallet in a place where it won't be discovered for thirty years. As soon as Frank hides it, John retrieves it. Later he is able to match the fingerprints with Jack Shepard. He pays another visit to the Shepards, but now only Mr. Shepard is alive. His wife died thirty years ago, the last of the Nightingale victims. Jack is still alive, doing private investigation, having left the police force after being involved with some corruption. John finds the present-day Jack Shepard in a bar, and tells him cryptically that he is going down, thirty years ago.

Frank's day back in 1969 does not go as well, at least at first. Satch reluctantly arrests him for the murder the night before, and takes him to jail. Frank explains about his conversations with his son in the future, and not surprisingly, Satch doesn't believe him. In an effort to convince him, Frank predicts some details of that day's World Series game. Satch leaves Frank in his cell and goes to talk to Julia. Jack Shepard then enters the cell and is about to shoot Frank when Satch's partner appears, demanding to know why Shepard is meddling in his case. Shepard leaves with the partner to tell a made-up story of why he is interested in the case, and while he is gone, Frank rigs up a way to electrocute him.

When Shepard returns, Frank renders him unconscious by electrocuting him, at the same time knocking out all the electricity in the police station. He then starts a fire which activates the building's sprinkler system. As everyone flees the building, and with Shepard lying face-down in a pool of water, Frank is able to calmly leave the cell (Shepard never closed the door), find the file with the evidence against him, and leave the building. Satch, meanwhile, is talking to Julia somewhere else where the electricity is still functioning and a TV is broadcasting the World Series game, and is distracted from his conversation when he sees the game going exactly as Frank predicted it would.

Frank goes to an apartment, presumably Shepard's, where he discovers pictures of the Nightingale victims. Shepard follows him there, and then chases him to the waterfront. Satch and his partner also follow either Frank or Shepard to the apartment, and also discover the pictures. At the waterfront, Frank surprises Shepard and appears to drown him. But later we see an unsuccessful search for the body.

Back at home, Frank contacts John and tells him that he has killed the killer. John says that that can't be, because his mother is still not there. At that point, Shepard (who must have figured out in 1969 how Frank knew in advance of the killings, and carried the memory with him to 1999) shows up at the house in both 1969 and 1999. In 1969, the younger Shepard handcuffs Frank, while in 1999, the older Shepard gets into a wrestling match with John after John knocks away his gun. While Frank frees himself, the younger Shepard tries to strangle Julia, but the young John catches him in the act.

As Frank approaches with a gun, the younger Shepard uses the young John as a human shield in order to induce Frank to drop the gun. Meanwhile, in 1999, the older Shepard has been able to retrieve his gun and is ready to shoot the adult John. In 1969, Frank drops the gun, the younger Shepard lets the young John go and comes at Frank. Frank gets the gun first, and as Shepard reaches out to try to knock the gun away, Frank shoots off his hand. In 1999, Shepard is choking John with that same hand while holding the gun in the other; the hand disappears and Shepard backs away in horror, but still keeps the gun pointed at John.

At that moment (in 1999), a shot rings out and Shepard falls dead. We then see a graying Frank (who quit smoking back in 1969 as a result of John's warnings) holding his gun, having just entered the room and fired. We don't really know for sure what happened to Shepard in 1969 other than he lost his hand. Father Frank and son John, now both in 1999, joyfully have the first hug of their reunion.

The movie ends with John and Frank (in 1999) playing baseball together as Julia looks on, followed by flashbacks to memories of the three of them together at various times during John's adolescence and adulthood.

MANUGINO
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

A film I love to watch over and over, a time travel film with something of a different portal, reuniting Father and Son, changing the course of events of not only the family, but of a Serial Killer case.

The isn't flasless, but it's an enjoyable story and different story for this type of theem.

76Majikat
Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

Jim Caviezel is AMAZING in this performance (the tough cop, the New Yorker, the paranoid cynic, the crying, the almost crying). I personally love any story about "time travel," so the scientific implausibilities don't bother me so much. It's still a surprisingly effective thriller. Yes, very All-American sappy ending, but they do set up the loving nuclear family properly throughout the movie, so there was only one way for it to end, I suppose.

aliceinpunderland
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

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