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|Index||23 reviews in total|
Rating: ** out of ****
The two-hour Sci-Fi Channel made-for-TV movies may almost always suck, but you can usually rely on their miniseries for quality acting, writing, and special effects (I loved Taken and Children of Dune, really liked Dune, and there is nothing currently on TV that can compete with the new Battlestar Galactica). Five Days to Midnight breaks the channel's success streak, proving to be easily its worst miniseries to date.
5DTM stars Timothy Hutton as J.T. Neumeyer, a physics professor with a young daughter (I forget the actress's name, but she looks a lot like a young Drew Barrymore) and a life insurance agent named Claudia for a girlfriend (Kari Matchett). While visiting his late wife's grave on a Monday morning, his daughter discovers a briefcase nearby. Upon opening the case, J.T. is a little shocked to discover that the contents are files pertaining to his own murder, which will occur in five days, at 3:55 A.M. on Friday.
He initially laughs it off as a hoax, but when a few of the little "prophecies" come true, he becomes a fast believer and sets out to find out who would murder him and why. He has only a few clues, but there is a list of suspects: Carl Axelrod, an eccentric student of his; Brad, his financially desperate brother-in-law; Roy Bremmer, a man he's never even heard of; and even his own girlfriend Claudia, who is not all that she appears to be. With the clock ticking down and only the help of a homicide investigator (Randy Quaid), J.T.'s obsession with saving his own life may come at the cost of many others.
Undeniably, 5DTM boasts one of the niftier premises in recent memory. Playing like a mix of Minority Report meets 24, the combination of sci-fi and mystery has always appealed to me, so there's no question that a good portion of the miniseries is genuinely engaging and entertaining (mostly in the beginning and middle segments).
A lot of the series is intentionally predictable, and in a fun way, like you just know that gift from his girlfriend will be the same parka he wears in that photo from the briefcase where he's lying dead, or the car his girlfriend rented will be that green Cherokee in that other photo, and so on and so forth. 5DTM also has fun with the implications of possible time travel and the changes one could set forth in the fabric of time. I was also thankful for the fact that a lot of the characters actually caught on to the possibility of time travel quickly and even accepted it without much question.
There are a lot of decent to good performances, especially Timothy Hutton, who capably handles the functions of a likable everyman. The girl who plays his daughter is terrific as well, and Kari Matchett would be a dead-on match for Naomi Watts if she had a smaller nose and slightly larger cheeks. Angus Macfadyen makes for a menacing villain as Bremmer, who's so evil he clearly can't be Neumeyer's killer.
Unfortunately, the miniseries begins to stumble by the second half of 'Day 4,' and is just a complete and utter mess by 'Day 5.' The writers can't seem to be able to keep much consistency in the film's concept of time travel. Without giving much away, when certain changes are made to the timeline in the film's climax, newspaper articles and photos from the future are also altered to fit the new timeline (kind of like in Back to the Future), and the changes occur immediately. However, in 'Day 2,' Neumeyer changes a woman's fate, preventing her from getting killed by a collapsing tree. After this change in time, his daughter then reads all the newspaper articles from the file the next day, which still state that the woman died because of the tree. Wouldn't that portion of the article have been altered?
The climax is just terrible (moderate spoilers in this paragraph), with every major suspect conveniently converging in the same location with murder on their minds. Just as bad, at least three of the potential killers wouldn't have even targeted Neumeyer if not for the intervention of the briefcase itself, and the one suspect that continuously threatens his life also seems most likely to the deed, but a tacked-on, idiotic surprise revelation completely disregards that possibility, placing the blame firmly on one of the characters that wouldn't have killed him if not for the briefcase's intervention. I can't think of any plausible reason this person would have killed Neumeyer prior to the appearance of the briefcase, but a bullet that conveniently fits into a gun is supposed to lead us to believe it was this one character all along.
The identity of the killer is perfectly predictable, since it's always the person we're least likely meant to suspect. Even though I came to the realization very early, I still doubted myself because, as stated earlier, there's just no reason this person would have any true motivation to kill Neumeyer without the briefcase.
It's unfortunate, but with such an awful ending, I just can't go out of my way to recommend 5DTM. It's not the movie's only major flaw, the miniseries is constantly padded to fill its allotted running time, and the director goes insanely overboard on the choppy slow motion, often ruining any developing suspense or momentum. Had the miniseries been about forty-five minutes to an hour shorter, I might have said yes as a video rental, but unless if you've got lots of time to kill, this isn't rewarding enough to spend the time and money.
Timothy hutton plays physics professor JT Neumeyer who while visiting his
wife's grave discovers a thin silver brief case.
He opens it and discovers a group of files showing pictures of his death and newspapers clippings.
First declaring this as a practical joke, the events in the files play out slowly and now convinced that he'll die in five days, tries to find a way to prevent himself from dying and must change his destiny.
The concept is great despite being a bit derivative, and there's plenty of room for tension, suspense, and great bits on philosophy, but the screenwriters miss their chances.
The cast is comprised mostly of second rate actors with the exception of Hutton who tries his best at the lead role but ultimately fails towards the end of the film as he manages to go way over the top with his emotional scenes.
There's also Randy quaid who is quite bland and one-dimensional, and Angus McFayden who is the worst of the characters as the over the top mob boss Roy Bremmer. Watch for his really bad scenes as he attempts to inflict depth into his character but comes off as laughable.
Meanwhile the story has the ability to inject tension and sense of immediacy but all of it is loss in the bogged down story. Rambling and droning at some points it's difficult to understand why this couldn't have been a two hour film instead of a four parter.
There's also plenty of room for philosophy and the concept of destiny and fate towards death, but there's nothing here as the story is mostly comprised of uneventful occurances, slim character development, and so much dialogue.
While the film is engrossing at the beginning, it's ultimately lost halfway through as the plot is segued into the benign plot featuring McFayden which takes away from the actual reason why we're watching.
"Stay tuned for the shocking last minutes to 5 Days to Midnight" the Sci-Fi channel boasts which never usually works on me but I was rather interested to see where this was developing. But, unfortunately it was all just hype. I was expecting that Neumeyer's daughter would accidentally shoot him causing his death, and that we never got to see who sent the briefcase, but it's all pretty much explained in the end and nothing of the sort happens.
I wanted an ironic, witty, and shocking ending beneath the muddled plot and droning dialogue, but alas we're not given anything but an obligatory and rather disappointing happy ending.
Decent performances, a great concept but falls apart halfway through becoming routine and cliche. The writers never give this story and concept a chance to spread its wings and just keep it down to mediocre level.
** out of **** stars.
This is an awesome movie. I taped it when it was on television and I
liked it so well I bought the DVD. It is one of those movies I can't
get enough of and I have watched it several times.
The actors are fantastic - that little girl is a magnificent actress. Timothy Hutton really shows what he is capable of. I was not familiar with Kari Matchett, but I would like to see more of her work. Randy Quaid was perfect as the stereotyped detective.
The soundtrack (which I am still trying to find) is great - perfectly placed songs and music. The music enhanced the film rather than just disappearing into the background.
If you have the opportunity to get the DVD, do. I watched the commentary and although I don't usually like to watch those (I hate knowing the secrets - I want to keep the magic), I did thoroughly enjoy the information. Their methods of shooting with multiple cameras and the time sequencing was explained and I'll always wonder why every film isn't made with multiple cameras. It really elevated this movie into an unforgettable film.
I highly recommend this film to anyone. Don't be turned off if you don't like Sci-Fi - this is a movie for anyway who just wants to escape into an engrossing story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While visiting the graveyard of his beloved wife with his daughter
Jesse (Gage Golightly), the physics professor John T. Neumeyer (Timothy
Hutton) finds a case with a police dossier relating his death in five
days. He initially believes it is a sick prank from the brilliant but
deranged physics student Carl Axelrod (Hamish Linklater), but when a
series of events related in the documents occur, he realizes that the
file has been sent from the future. With the support of Detective Irwin
Sikorski (Randy Quaid), whose name is indicated in the file as in
charge of the investigation of his death, and suspecting of everybody
including his girlfriend Claudia Whitney (Kari Matchett) that has a
blurred hidden past, J.T. tries to change the future and his fate. But
Carl believes that any modification in the time-line will jeopardize
mankind and the future of the planet.
"Five Days to Midnight" is a good mini-series with a quite original story that blends action, thriller, sci-fi and drama in an intriguing way. Unfortunately the plot has the usual holes and flaws relative to time-travel. For example, if Jesse sent the dossier from the future, why not write a note to her father asking him to keep the open mind and explaining the whole situation? This would be the simpler and most rational way to advise J. T. Neumeyer how to prevent his death and eliminate his list of suspects. Therefore there is a great incoherence in the plot. In Brazil, the DVD was edited and released with 148 minutes running time, in a regretful but usual procedure of the Brazilian distributors. The mutilated edition destroys the original work of the director and writer, and the viewer loses many references along the story. Anyway I found that the weak climax of the plot could be improved by the writer since this mini-series has a great premise and deserved a better conclusion and resolution. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Cinco Dias Para a Morte" ("Five Days To the Death")
Kudos to SCI FI Channel for a great mini-series!
I enjoyed the four days of wonderful suspense and time-loops drove me crazy guessing. The Sci-Fi boards were abuzz with over 700 posts!
The whole concept of giving watchers the clues online to begin to make their guesses as to the ending was a brilliant touch of intelligence at work!
I won't give any endings away - but I will say that if you watch this you will not be sure until the very ending exactly how it ends.
Timothy Hutton was the star and he handled it with aplomb. The great supporting cast was headed by Randy Quaid and Kari Matchett. Hamish Linklater was wonderful as the manic Physics student as were Angus MacFadyen as the mobster and David McIlwraith as the brother-in-law.
But the major acting discovery was GAGE GOLIGHTLY as Hutton's daughter. She was marvelous in every scene she was in and stole the limelight from whomever was with her. Natural talent like that is to be appreciated. Not to mention her remarkable resemblance to the young Drew Barrymore. It would be interesting to see Drew Barrymore in a prequel-sequel of this mini-series - if she weren't probably overpriced for SCI FI channel?
All in all - we were kept on our seats for 4 wonderful days of suspense, trying to outguess the wonderful writers. Kudos to all of them!
I recommend this highly for mystery and suspense buffs. Not just Sci-Fi fans. It's a winner!
My overall reaction is that I feel like I completely wasted five hours
of my life watching this miniseries. While there were a few red flags
in the beginning, the writing seemed to be carrying the movie. First,
the red flags: the director had an extremely annoying habit of throwing
in slow motion in places where it was completely out of place.
Actually, there's almost never a reason for slow motion. Directors and
writers don't normally write "This scene is done in slow motion" into
the script. If the action in the take appears to be incredibly lame
during the editing, they'll try a slow motion effect before throwing
the scene away. So the high frequency of slow motion shots is a give
away that the director is a hack.
** Spoiler Ahead **
Other than the director's attempt to sabotage the movie, the writing was very good for the first 4 hours and 50 minutes. It wasn't typical Sci-Fi fare, but a seemingly well crafted murder mystery. The twist was that the victim was investigating his own murder. Not bad. But there was no mystery to the ending. It was the equivalent of having the cavalry ride in at the last minute, only dumber. There was no attempt to clean up the loose ends. No attempt to explain how the professor escaped his destiny. It might have been modestly satisfying if there was an attempt to explain how the future benefactor knew that a single bullet would be needed at the last moment.
Not since Steven King's "The Stand" was there a more disappointing ending to a promising story line.
I'm not kidding, this really hooked me; one could almost say that this ought to come with a warning, letting people know that this may very well grip them and their attention, and not let go until the final credits roll. From the first moments, this is interesting and engaging. The concept is not completely original, of course, but this is a good take on it, and I found myself surprised by most of the twists. This follows a physics professor trying to uncover the truth behind a police file that details his own murder, with the date being five days later. The plot keeps you watching, and there are unexpected developments that make sense. There's only one brief instance of obvious exposition, and apart from that, the story-telling is rather well-done. The cinematography and editing are great, with the one exception of the occasional "sluggish" time effect, which isn't always used well. This builds atmosphere and suspense well, and can be intense. It's exciting when it tries to be. The script is well-crafted and clever. Humor tends to be appropriate in tone and amount, though one person is pushed a little excessively as comic relief. The characters are well-written and credible. Dialog can be smart. The music is cool and fitting. Production design is excellent throughout. Special effects tend to look marvelous. The acting is convincing, every single performance, including the kid. Throughout, this is fairly well-done. The climax is well-done. It does, unfortunately, not completely live up to the incredible things that the audience imagines during the course of the show, but it wraps stuff up well. The DVD comes with trailers for this and three other things, as well as four informative and well-done featurettes. While I can't speak for any other version, the one I watched did not have nudity or language, and was in five episodes of about forty minutes each, so three hours and twenty is the full running time. I recommend this mini-series to any fan of science fiction-thrillers that deal with the idea of time and how set in stone the future is. Huh. The Sci-Fi Channel doesn't always suck. Before The Lost Room and this, I wouldn't have believed that to be possible. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoiler Alert I'm not a big Timothy Hutton fan, but 5 Days to Midnight
really impressed me with his performance.
The mini series which aired on Sci Fi Channel in the US, revolves around Physics Professor JT Neumeyer, whose wife died giving birth ten years ago to daughter Jesse Tracy Neumeyer, played exquisitely by Gage Golightly(who looks strikingly like Drew Barrymore). On the ten year anniversary of his wife's death (and daughter's birth) JT and Jesse visit the gravesite and find a sleek metal briefcase with JT's name on it.
Eventually, JT opens the case and finds a homicide case file with photos of him, dead with a bullet in his head. Initially, JT thinks this is a hoax created by a psychologically disturbed student in his class, Carl Axlerod. However, things start to happen exactly as the contents of the briefcase suggest, and JT realizes that his death by the end of the week may be unstoppable.
During the week, JT enlists the help of Police Detective Irwin Sikorski (played by the ever spectacular Randy Quaid)whose name was mentioned in the homicide file. Sikorski helps JT learn that his girlfriend, Claudia Whitney, is not who she says she is. Claudia is married to a Chicago crime lord, Roy Bremmer, who has tracked Claudia to Everett, Washington (the town where JT and Jesse live) where she fled to escape him. Meanwhile, it turns out that JT's brother in law, Brad Hume, a fellow professor at the college who lives a life of luxury, is going broke on bad stock picks and sees the metal briefcase that JT found as his ticket out of bankruptcy. The briefcase, it seems, is made of a futuristic composite of carbon nanotubes and if Brad can back-engineer it he could sell the patent rights for millions of dollars.
JT and Jesse attempt to flee the city to escape destiny, but things go awry, leaving JT to face the possibility that he will end up dead on the stage of the sleazy strip joint Buck Naked, just as the file predicts.
If this comes out on DVD, it would definitely be worth a rental, though I hope to purchase it if it is released.
i did'nt mind this mini series.for a TV science fiction movie,it's not half bad.it kept me interested through out,and even riveted at times.the acting is very good in this movie.i'm not sure how accurate the movie is from a physics point of view,but so what,i enjoyed it.the basic premise is that physics professor J.T.Neumeyer(Timothy Hutton) discovers that he is murdered in 5 days(thanks to an anonymous tip from the future.so he must try to figure out who the murderer is and try to prevent his own killing thereby altering his destiny and maybe that of others.the whole thing involves theoretical time travel(sort of)in the present and in the future.i have to say,the ending caught me completely by surprise.i wasn't expecting it at all.i honestly thought this was a well done mini series.i'd give '5 days to Midnite' 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this show. I never knew it existed until my friend brought it
home from the video store. We just finished it and I had to share what
I thought. THIS DOES INCLUDE SPOILERS!!
First of all, yes, the slow motion scenes sucked. Who needs to see a tree that many times and I didn't get why we had to watch the leaf blow into the door window at 'Mandy's' house.
Second, I loved the ending. Sure, it didn't explain how the folder changed to 'J.T.' living, but if you can't figure it out that he changed his future, so the file changed, get a clue.
Third, during the whole movie, I was thinking..Did he do it? Did she do it? Wait, maybe he did it. I love movies like that.
Fourth, Did anyone notice the dog before the movie explained it? It was the dog he almost hit, that belonged to Mandy. Coincidence? Of course not.
Fifth, Jesse from the future sent the file. That would make sense. She knew they would be there, and knew her father would figure it out.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes mystery until the end. Just fast forward through the slow motion shots, lol.
If I had to choose one thing I really didn't like, it would be that the DVD didn't explain things about the movie, like the dog. Or the many clocks.
Feel free to e-mail me if you wish. I love a good debate.
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