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Rating: *** out of ****
A word of warning before the review: I highly recommend Retroactive and suggest you go out of your way to see it in widescreen because the numerous action scenes and breathtaking desert cinematography are cramped and a pain to watch in pan-and-scan.
Relegated to a straight-to-video release, Retroactive is a smart and entertaining thriller that deserves a wider audience. The film features a relatively simple but clever premise: Superhottie Kylie Travis stars as Karen Warren, a police negotiator who's on vacation in Texas. She gets into a car accident and has to hitchhike with a somewhat odd, but seemingly friendly couple, Frank and Rayanne (James Belushi and Shannon Whirry).
But everything goes horribly wrong when Frank discovers Rayanne has been cheating on him and he murders her right in front of Karen's eyes, who proceeds to run to the nearest building, a government-owned complex run by a single occupant, a scientist named Brian (Frank Whaley). There, he accidentally activates the time travel device he was working on, sending Karen back twenty minutes, just as she's been picked up by Frank. She then becomes determined to stop the horrible crime for occurring, but unfortunately, the body count grows even larger and she must go back again to prevent an even larger massacre.
Retroactive's appeal holds mainly to sci-fi action fans. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, which keeps the film unpredictable and suspenseful. But the real treat is for action fans, who should strap in for an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. From the moment Travis is sent back in time, the film deliver non-stop excitement. There are tense shootouts and fast-paced car chases, the latter of which boasts some of the most exhilarating stunts since The Road Warrior. From a visceral point-of-view, Retroactive surpasses most of Hollywood's recent summer blockbusters.
The film still has its flaws, none of them surprisingly having to do with a sense of repetition, considering each action setpiece has the same basic setting and situation (car chase on a lonely desert highway, shootout at a gas station). Credit director Louis Morneau for keeping each sequence fresh and taut with suspense. The set-up may be the same, but the results and resolutions considerably differ. Rather, what I do have a problem with is some technical error during the shootouts. Belushi is shown firing a six-bullet revolver at one point, but clearly fires more than ten rounds. Another similar blatant miscalculation occurs again near the end. Plot holes and leaps of logic are expected in this kind of film, but the number of shots fired from a gun shouldn't be that hard to keep track of.
As the film's tough heroine, the absolutely gorgeous Kylie Travis is refreshingly intelligent and strong-willed. She occasionally has trouble holding back that British accent of hers, but still comes across quite well (looks great in that black tank-top, too). James Belushi is a lot of fun as the psychotic villain, clearly relishing the over-the-top role, even though his character does lose menace through some ridiculous one-liners. Frank Whaley is quite good as the young scientist, hampered only by a single scene that requires him to forget the logic of his own device which Travis corrects him on.
With blistering, fast-paced action and a fun story, Retroactive proves to be a highly enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes. Most of the running time features a tight tank-top and pants wearing Kylie Travis kicking ass, so that alone is enough to recommend the film.
Interesting premise. If you could relive a moment that went wrong, how
could you "fix" it? It's not as simple as it may seem, and that is the
point. Karen relives the moment that went wrong numerous times and
every time she tries to "fix" it, it gets even worse! Very enjoyable.
It is the imperfect ways that she tries to fix things that ring true.
James Belushi is convincing as a red-neck creep who has neither class
The fundamental premise (turning back time) is a real stretch. However, that is not a real drawback, since you only have time to ponder it in retrospect. Also, anyone who watches this will have their own ideas of how they would have "fixed" the problem. However even though it's not a perfect movie, it's still one that interestingly and entertainingly explores it's premise.
I didn't! This movie is truly non-stop action, with the possible exception of during Frank's belt buckle joke. I can watch this movie everytime it's on. I remember it coming on once while I was visiting some peoples house and someone was passing through the living room just as it started, they stopped there, staring and didn't move from that spot until the credits rolled. This movie just keeps pulling you in, deeper and deeper, making you wonder where it's going to go next with all the twists and turns. Even with these plot twists and inside out/upside down turns, it's easy to stay up with what's going on.
I had picked up the DVD at a store not knowing much about the film, and
was surprised that the film was as good as it was. I like Belushi. I
think he played this part very well. I had never heard of Kylie Travis
before, but I thought she was very good in this film. I thought she
played the tough woman part well. I like the movies where there's a
tough heroine. Like the Alien movies.
Of course, it didn't hurt that Kylie's good looking too. The plot was interesting. I won't divulge the rest of the movie, but suffice it to say, if someone likes adventure and science fiction together, this movie might fill the bill. If you find it at your local video store, I would suggest buying it and adding it to your collection.
My summary is that it's a better than average film. I recommend it.
This film is great from the first moment. I love James Belushi as a baddie. There are so many time travel films out there and this one is a stand out. Cinematography is beautiful. This film deserved to be shown on the big screen. If you are looking for a good film at the video story, Retroactive is an excellent rental title. No one will be disappointed.
Whoever came up with the title to this film should be taken to one side
taught a thing or two about movies. There is no getting away from the fact
that the title is BAD! The title suggests that you are about to watch
bad sci-fi movie you have ever seen, but what lies behind the title is an
entertaining time travel film which is actually quite good.
James Belushi is quite good as the bad guy and Kylie Travis plays the feisty female cop well.
There is great pleasure in watching the main characters failing miserably at changing their situation as they travel back again and again to fix things, when it seems all manage to do is make a bad situation worse. The ending is surprisingly downbeat and refreshingly rewarding, which makes a change for Hollywood these days.
All in all not the best of films ever made, but if you just leave you critical faculties and high expectations at home you will be pleasantly surprised.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the wake of an unfortunate incident which lead to six people losing
their lives, smart, gutsy, but severely guilt-ridden hostage negotiator
Karen Warren (strongly played by Kylie Travis) quits her job and goes
driving cross country to get her head together. Problems arise when
Karen wrecks her car in the middle of a swelteringly hot and empty
stretch of barren Texas backroads. Karen's given a lift by foul,
boorish, obnoxiously hostile, and hot-tempered redneck psycho criminal
Frank Booth (a fabulously forceful and flamboyant portrayal by James
Belushi) and his timid, browbeaten wife Rayanne (a topflight turn by
erstwhile 90's direct-to-video erotic thriller starlet Shannon Whirry).
Frank kills Rayanne in a fit of rage when he finds out she's cheating
on him. Karen narrowly avoids being bagged by Frank, seeking shelter in
a secret government compound where token nerdy scientist Brian (a
charmingly boyish Frank Whaley) is experimenting with time travel.
Karen goes back twenty minutes in time and attempts to stop Frank from
killing Rayanne with even more disastrous results. Bound and determined
to get things right, Karen goes back in time again. And then again when
things go even more awry ...
Director Louis Morneau, working from a highly sharp-witted and imaginative script by Michael Hamilton-Wright, Robert Strauss and Philip Badger, ingeniously blends elements of a gritty crime thriller, a grungy road movie, and your basic ripping'n'rousing actionfest with a nifty central science fiction premise into an excitingly dynamic, absorbing, and oftentimes literally explosive handy dandy multi-genre combo synthesis. The extremely exhilarating action sequences are staged with heart-stopping brio and ability, the suspense is dexterously stoked to the nerve-frying ninth degree, the admittedly funky special effects are used with laudable judiciousness, and the furiously forward-ho headlong pace never once flags or falters during the film's fiercely zesty 91 minute running time. George Mooradian's bright, sun-bleached cinematography adds considerably to the sweaty tension. Ditto Tim Truman's lively, rattling, pulse-pounding score.
Kudos as well to the uniformly first-class acting from a swell cast. The always welcome and invigorating M. Emmet Walsh contributes a cogent cameo as a weaselly gas station proprietor. James Belushi's deliciously rip-roaring hog-wild histrionics as the dangerously volatile Frank are a riot to watch, injecting a hilariously crude'n'rude sense of black-as-coal humor to the generally serious proceedings. Most impressive of all is Kylie Travis' fiery performance as Karen, whose deep-seated need for redemption and exceptional bravery make her a very moving and sympathetic tragic heroine. A multiple award winning feature at numerous foreign fantasy film festivals, this bang-up terrific indie sleeper favorite deserves all the acclaim and accolades it has garnered abroad. It's a sheer delight that's eminently worthy of cult status.
This movie has a fascinating premise- what if you could go back in time, and
change what you've done? Would it make things better, or
Some of Jim Belushi's best acting is in this film- his "stream of consciousness" comments are a riot, and also horrifying, given their context. I've heard that he had just gotten out of a tough divorce, and the director let him ad lib at length, to really show the anger and madness in the character of Frank.
Of course, the lingering camera shots of Kylie Travis flying through the air in her black tank top and tight pants do nothing to detract from the overall watchability of this action/psychodrama thriller.
I'd give this one 8/10.
A Chicago cop has car trouble on a remote Texas highway, but is picked up
a murderous man (James Belushi) and his tormented wife. Before she can do
anything to stop it, Belushi has murdered several people, including his
wife. The cop (Kylie Travis) escapes to the inside of the Superconducting
Supercollider, and manages to go back in time to try to rectify the
situation. Unfortunately, her first trips back in time cause more
James Belushi shamelessly chews up the scenery in this one (or should I say shoots up), but Kylie Travis is wonderful in her role as the troubled policewoman. The film has an interesting time-travel premise which is similar to GROUNDHOG DAY and a certain STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION episode. Unfortunately, this means that we get to see Belushi murder the same people in slow motion multiple times. Still, if you overlook some of the silliness in the execution of the plot, the premise of the policewoman's dilemma is a compelling one.
By the way, the SuperCollider is not out in the desert in West Texas, but underneath farmland in east Texas, and the area is not that deserted. Also, the US Government shut down the project several years ago because it was too expensive.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a 'small' film that's easy to dismiss based on its obvious
faults. But those faults are entirely superficial, and if you can
overlook them (not difficult), it has a great deal to offer.
The clever thing here is the marriage of tight little Twilight Zone gimmick with a typical Die Hard action scenario. The heroine, a police negotiator fresh from a failed hostage crisis, finds herself endlessly re-living a calamitous twenty minutes out on a desert highway... trying desperately for a better outcome, yet somehow only making things worse and worse. The eventual conclusion is beautifully restrained, passing up all the usual Hollywood clichés and thereby making a surprisingly thoughtful statement about how sometimes you just can't make everything work out perfectly.
The only real problem with the film is some slightly heavy-handed direction. Yes, yes, I know: the heroine absolutely should have picked up the gun instead of running. Several times. My guess is that the script specified that she had to run, and the director simply wasn't careful enough in placing the dropped weapon so as to make clear she couldn't possibly grab it instead. It happens in much bigger-budget movies than this. There's also the issue of Belushi's seeming indestructibility, but this I assume is deliberate. The situation is nightmarishly predestined, so it makes perfect sense that only those die who must die.
Aside from these few moments, though, the direction is pretty sharp. The pace is unhurried yet relentless; armed confrontations are genuinely tense; and the various explosions are very gratifying. (Do cars *really* blow up like that? Who cares! Every genre has its conventions...) The story twists and turns delightfully; like the heroine, we often get just what we want, but rarely quite what we expect.
Performances, by a cast of unknowns and second-stringers, are uniformly fine. But Jim Belushi, rarely thought of as Oscar material, is truly memorable as the bombastic Texas psychopath, both funny and frightening. This is easily the best work I've ever seen from him; it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job in this role.
No, Retroactive isn't perfect. But its strengths far outweigh its minor weaknesses. Perhaps with a bigger name attached to it, or more CGI effects, it would have been a blockbuster. As it is, the limited scale only increases its charm. This is that rarity, a thoughtful action film: exciting, amazing, amusing... and satisfying on every level.
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