Directed by Richard Donner, starring Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Ethan Embry, Anna Friel, Neal McDonough and David Thewlis.
An adaptation of a high-concept Michael Crichton bestseller helmed by Richard Donner (director of the 'Lethal Weapon' series, 'Superman' and 'The Goonies', amongst others) 'Timeline' could have been a mildly entertaining adventure - but somewhere along the way someone forgot to commission a decent script.
Under the boisterous supervision of Professor Johnston (a hammy Connolly), a team of student archaeologists, including his son Chris (Walker), are working on the site of a 14th century battle at La Roque in France. Becoming suspicious of the International Technology Company (ITC) who are funding the dig, Johnston goes to their New Mexico HQ looking for answers. While he is gone, the archaeologists stumble on an anachronism - a pair of 21st century bifocals that belong to the professor in a tunnel that has been sealed for six hundred years.
Travelling to New Mexico in their turn, Chris and his fellow excavators, including love interest Kate (O'Connor) and assistant professor Andre (Butler), discover that smarmy ITC industrialist Doniger (Thewlis) has accidentally discovered a 'wormhole' which leads directly to the place the students are excavating - in the lead-up to the 1357 battle of La Roque Castle. Insisting on exploring it himself, Professor Johnston gets lost in the 14th century. Before you've even had a chance to suspend your belief, this band of merry men are heading back in time with just six hours to find their lost professor before they all get stranded in the wrong time.
Full credit must go to scriptwriters Jeff Maguire and George Nolfi for taking a ludicrous, although fun, novel and rendering it almost incomprehensible. Never mind wormholes, it's plotholes that they need to worry about. While the climatic battle is beautifully staged - a night time scene, lit up with flaming arrows and missiles - character development has been sacrificed in the interest of moving the action along. Billy Connelly goes from a gung-ho father to a dithering, morally compromised old man in the brief space between centuries and there's a mawkish, mistimed romance between Paul Walker and Frances O'Connor who always chose periods of high danger for their tender moments.
Most of the medieval scenes look more like outtakes from an episode of 'Xena, Warrior Princess' rather than 'Braveheart' and modern day events unfold in resolutely low-tech looking high-tech offices - cardboard sets to compliment the one-dimensional script and paper-thin characters.
Not even good enough to be an enjoyable bad film, 'Timeline' will make you wonder why you wasted two hours of your life. Now that's when a time-travelling wormhole would be useful...