You know, time travel is not a good thing. Over and over again, movies come out proving that if you mess with time travel, you are doomed to do bad things. Yet, people just keep doing it. It's sad really. An obsession. Especially when someone tries to fix things he or she has already f-ed up, and just makes them worse.
Karra Elejalde stars as Hector, a man who just doesn't get it. He sees a naked woman in the woods and of course he's going to go investigate. He gets attacked by a madman and of course he runs away. He comes across a laboratory at the top of the hill, decides it's best to hide in the strange machine... hmm. And when he comes out, and discovers that he's traveled back in time a few hours, and the scientist tells him to stay put, and he instead calls his home and then decides to go exploring, you have one stupid, stupid, stupid man on our hands.
This is the one major flaw in the Spanish film Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes), and yet it is the catalyst for a surprisingly intelligent and complex thriller. When Hector starts doing the things he does, it was a bit off putting. I didn't get why he was doing those things, and he was so obnoxiously defiant to the logical course of action. He sees his past self talking with his wife... and gets jealous? He could stay boxed up and let everything work itself out, but instead goes out and starts tampering with time? How idiotic can you get? The beginning stretch is a little frustrating as the film deals with these issues, and most importantly, writer/director Nacho Vigalondo (ha, my name in Spanish class was Nacho) never explains Hector's actions. They just happen, and they still don't make much sense to me.
But if you can get past that, Vigalondo has created a surprisingly complicated and twisting story of time travel, murder and deception, and should be considered one of the better time travel films. Shot on what appears to be a low budget and featuring no recognizable actors, Timecrimes does suffer a bit from its indie look - Vigalondo's direction isn't particularly complex or memorable, and the acting is fine but not remarkably great. Beyond that, though, the writing is pretty good and the plot engaging.
I don't want to say too much to blow anything, but let's just say that there are a fair amount of twists - some large, some not so large - and Timecrimes digresses into some pretty messed up stuff. The movie is being remade, and while I'm always wary of remakes, I am excited to see if a different, more dynamic director is able to take the story to an entirely new level. Some pretty disturbing stuff happens when you think about it, but Vigalondo never focuses on such things; had he, his version of Timecrimes would be ranked as one of the better movies of 2008.
Timecrimes has its flaws, but Nacho Vigalondo has created a compelling story that intelligently winds its way through the complication of time travel and properly deals with the paradox that is created. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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