Five Days to Midnight Reviews
5ive Days To Midnight was a very unique and entertaining story, but for some reason, it was given to the SyFy channel and turned into a four part mini-series, rather than a movie. It's problematic, because to fill the extra time, they have to come up with a lot of side stories that never fully resolve themselves. Sometimes with Science Fiction, things are never resolved, because they simply can't be explained and I'm okay with that, but simple things that can be resolved should be, otherwise the story leaves more questions than it answers. That is the case with 5ive Days To Midnight, it's really well written and has an outstanding cast, but being that it's four hours long, there wasn't any reason to leave parts of the story unfinished. The conclusion was therefore the best and worst part of the whole thing. The ending was fast paced and exciting, real edge of your seat type stuff, but as soon as it was over, there was a small two minute conversation, and then that was it. With all the time the writers spent on the back story and the introduction to the characters, to just leave us with a story that basically just abruptly ends, was defiantly disappointing to me.
What doesn't disappoint is the other three hours and forty-five minutes of this mini-series. I find that with mini-series, a lot of times the description and preview are actually better than anything else, but that's not the case here. This is a well written mystery, with some great action sequences, mixed with Science Fiction, and there is even a mob element to the whole thing. Timothy Hutton stars as the professor and gives the performance of a life time. How does one investigate their own murder and protect their ten year old daughter at the same time? His character was in a unique situation that really came off well. The whole package is outstanding, which is why the disappointing ending really bothers me more than it probably should.
There are many problems with this film. One of them is stylistic: over and over again, the director uses some sort of blurry slow motion whenever something ominous is supposed to be happening. Not only is this visually annoying, but added to the ponderous, "suspenseful" music, this feels like the cinematic equivalent of multiple exclamation marks at the end of sentences.
The time travel itself is poorly handled, which is a bit sad coming from the Sci-Fi Channel, who are supposed to be in their area of expertise. The science talk is complete gobbledygook, vainly attempting to mask the writers' lack of understanding of what science is about. For instance, at one point, the brilliant student defends a completely deterministic (or rather fatalistic) vision of the universe, and accuses his professor of indulging "theology" by claiming his free will can change the future. But when the student insists that everything is fixed, he adds, "especially births and deaths." Now if he is arguing from a purely physical standpoint (there are lots of arcane equations on his blackboards to prove this to us innumerate morons), what is so special about births and deaths? No new physical laws or particles are involved in biological processes.
The time travel is also inconsistent. Much of the progression in the film involves finding out whether the future is set or not. Now to prove this you need to show that you can make something happen differently than is described in the future file. But at another point in the film, they say that the file alters as events are changed. So how could the file have served as a reference point earlier on? And why should the file change when the event happens differently, and not have been different from the very moment it appeared in the present?
I was not too impressed by the performances, mostly because the characters themselves were cliches, and their actions and reactions wer often over the top. Fans of Star Trek DS9 need not bother to rent the film, as Nicole de Boer's character could virtually have been written off from the story. Fans of "24", however, will enjoy Kari Matchett in a substantial role, and one very reminiscent of her contribution to season 6. Gage Golightly is quite good as the hero's daughter, reminding me a little of a young Drew Barrymore.
I would recommend this film to Cluedo lovers, but for a sci-fi nerd like me, this was very forgettable entertainment, with a rather grotesque climax, and no real elucidation of the future backstory (or should I say "frontstory"?), which was what I cared most about.
Interesting story, though.