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Slipstream (2005)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres:
Sci-Fi Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
Director:
David van Eyssen David van Eyssen
Starring:
Sean Astin Sean Astin
Ivana Milicevic Ivana Milicevic
Vinnie Jones Vinnie Jones
Kevin Otto Kevin Otto
Victoria Bartlett Victoria Bartlett

4.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: December 03, 2007
Time travel movies are nothing new, with the Back to the Future series being the undisputed heavyweight champion. Obviously, Slipstream is nowhere near as good as that nor does it bring anything new to the genre's table, but it's still not a horrible little flick. With that said, it really chould have been so much better.

Two F.B.I. agents, Agents Tanner and Hallman, have been assigned to observe physicist Stuart Conway. While most of the project he's working on is Top Secret, even to them, they do know that it's something revolutionary and known as 'Slipstream.' In truth, he's been working on a time travel device. Stuart decides to take it out on a test run, using it to for personal reasons that his superiors would certainly frown upon. He takes the device (which looks like a high-tech cell phone) to the local bank where he cashes the same check repeatedly and makes a few bumbling attempts to pick up the quasi-hot teller. Unfortunately for our nerdy hero, the shit is about to hit the proverbial fan. A group of heavily armed Brits burst into the bank demanding the money. Obviously, our two F.B.I. agents don't take kindly to this and open fire on our would-be thieves. Caught in the crossfire, Stuart takes a round to the chest. As Tanner quickly runs over to help him, Stuart activates the device again. Because she was in direct contact with him, she too goes back in time. After taking a minute to regain her bearings, she gears up for the upcoming heist, and engages in another shootout with the thugs. This one goes even worse than the first, as her partner takes a few shotgun blasts to the stomach and Winston Briggs, the head of the gang, gets his hands on Stuart's device. Our stage is now set for a fairly unoriginal action movie, complete with plenty of explosions and hostage situations.

Before I start giving my thoughts on this, let me give a brief overview on the subtleties of the time travel using Slipstream. The handheld device activates itself after a brief charging period, at which point the person holding the device and anything in direct contact with the traveler is sent back in time ten minutes. So if Billy activates the device, and Jill touches his shoulder, she's going back too. Any inanimate object in contact goes back as well. So when Stuart took his first withdrawal, then went back, the two grand was still in his hand. One final note, this isn't like Back to the Future, where you can go back and see yourself from the past. Instead, only your conscious is sent back and you relive the ten minutes, now able to rethink any poor choices you made the first time through.

One of the most noticeable things is the way this is shot. It's a fairly low budget flick, yet director David van Eyssen didn't let that get in the way. The time traveling scenes are done very simply, they just show the film moving in quick rewind. Nothing flashy, but it got the job done. And since the device only has a window of ten minutes, it's not like they take up a lot of time. Now the problem lies in the few scenes that Eyssen decided to get a little artsy. For example, during the second shootout in the bank, he uses some merry-go-round effect to show all the different characters. The camera is fixed in the middle of the group and starts spinning, and we spin to each character firing their guns (with both the Unlimited Ammo cheat on and the Stormtrooper Mode activated). The effect itself did look kind of cool, but I thought the MTV-ness of the technique stuck out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, it fit in a bit better than I initially thought, and there lies the problem.

You see, this premise could have very easily made for a fairly original, plot-driven movie. Honestly, I think that if they kept redoing the bank heist, it would have turned out a lot better than this. While some may argue that this would be repetitive, I think by the changing perspective of different people going back each time, combined with some repeat performances of people who had gone back one time but not for the subsequent trip, the movie could have held the viewer's attention throughout the running time. Instead, they opted to use it as the setup for a generic action movie, with the Slipstream device kind of thrown in there as an afterthought. Usually, I have no problems with generic action movies, but this is a blatant waste of a perfectly good concept. While I can't really fault a movie for not being what I expected it to be, I can fault it for its overbearing lack of originality, and (have I stressed this enough?) for pissing away what should have been a key plot point.

Our selection of actors here are all of the good-but-not-wonderful variety. Sean Astin does well with the brilliant but socially inept Conway. Though he annoyed me more than once, this was the character, not the actor, so no complaints from me. Briggs is Vinnie Jones once again typecast as an aggressive Brit that is constantly shooting off from the mouth. Personally, I love this role of his, but I know a lot of people who can't stand him, so your mileage may vary. And finally, Yugoslavian actress Ivana Milicevic gives quite the sub-par performance as Agent Tanner. While easy on the eyes, she fails to convince as the badass femme role that's all the rage these days.

The key word here is 'disappointment.' I had high hopes when I read the quick plot synopsis, and instead I was given a basic action flick with so-so acting and one of the most cliché endings in the book. With that said, it's not an awful movie per se, but nothing I really recommend tracking down. One final note, while browsing through the IMDB forum for this title, there was a lot of whining about plot holes. A large number of these weren't real plot holes, the complaining parties simply missed a few details; so if you do decide to give this a spin, make sure you pay attention. 6/10.
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