Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gregory Hoblit|
|Written by||Toby Emmerich|
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Edited by||David Rosenbloom|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$68.1 million|
Frequency is a 2000 American science fiction thriller drama film. It was co-produced and directed by Gregory Hoblit and written and co-produced by Toby Emmerich. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel as father and son, Frank and John Sullivan respectively. It was filmed in Toronto and New York City. The film gained mostly favorable reviews following its release via DVD format on October 31, 2000.
In October 1969, firefighter Frank Sullivan (Quaid) dies in a warehouse fire, leaving behind his wife Julia (Elizabeth Mitchell) and six-year-old son John. Thirty years later, in 1999, John (Caviezel), now an NYPD detective, is dumped by his girlfriend Samantha for refusing to move out of his father's house. John's childhood friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich) finds a Heathkit single-sideband ham radio that once belonged to Frank, but fails to get it working. The night before the anniversary of his father's death, John is surprised to find the radio broadcasting during an occurrence of the aurora borealis and has a brief conversation with another man concerning the 1969 World Series, which John is able to recount in specific detail. Eventually, he realizes that the other man is Frank and tries to warn him of his impending death. The next day, while attempting to rescue a young girl, Frank heeds his son's warning and manages to escape the warehouse. That evening, the two reconnect and learn a great deal about each other's lives.
Subsequently, John begins to notice major changes in the present: Julia no longer lives at her current address, Samantha doesn't recognize him, and he learns that Frank died in 1989 from lung cancer. His boss, Sgt. Satch DeLeon (Andre Braugher), assigns him to investigate the "Nightingale", a serial killer who murdered three nurses in the 1960s. However, John discovers that the Nightingale is now connected to ten murders, including that of his mother two weeks after Frank's supposed death. Overwhelmed with guilt for the new murders, John persuades his father to help him prevent these crimes from occurring. Frank manages to save the first victim, but when he tries to rescue the second, the Nightingale subdues him and steals his driver's license, which he plants to frame Frank for the murder.
When Frank shares his experience with his son, John instructs his father to wrap his wallet in plastic and hide it somewhere in the house. Using the preserved fingerprints from the wallet, John identifies the Nightingale as Jack Shepard (Shawn Doyle), a former detective who, in the original timeline, died from a medical error the same night Frank died. Since Julia didn't leave the hospital early after learning of Frank's death, she was able to save Shepard's life. Meanwhile, Frank is approached by then-Detective Satch DeLeon, who tries to arrest him on suspicion of murder. In the resulting struggle, the radio is knocked over and sustains damage, shutting it off. While awaiting questioning, Frank activates the precinct's fire sprinkler system, escapes, and breaks into Shepard's apartment, where he finds jewelry taken from the victims. Shepard catches Frank in the act and pursues him, ending with a fight underwater where Shepard seemingly drowns.
Frank fixes the radio, but while talking both he and John are attacked by the 1969 and 1999 versions of Shepard. Using a shotgun, Frank manages to blow off Shepard's right hand in 1969, causing Shepherd's hand to disappear in 1999 just as he's about to kill John. The timeline rapidly fixes itself in 1999 and an elderly Frank kills Shepard and embraces his son. The film concludes with a baseball game including John, Samantha (now his wife), John's young son, Frank, Julia, Satch and Gordo, who's now wealthy on account of having invested in Yahoo! on John's advice.
- Dennis Quaid as Francis Patrick "Frank" Sullivan
- Jim Caviezel as John Francis "Johnny" Sullivan
- Andre Braugher as Satch DeLeon
- Elizabeth Mitchell as Julia "Jules" Sullivan
- Shawn Doyle as Jack Shepard
- Noah Emmerich as Gordon "Gordo" Hersch
- Melissa Errico as Samantha Thomas
- Jordan Bridges as Graham Gibson
- Peter MacNeill as Butch Foster
- Michael Cera as Gordon Hersch Jr., Gordo's son
- Marin Hinkle as Sissy Clark
- Brian Greene as Himself
- Daniel Henson as 6-year-old John "Johnny" Sullivan
- Stephen Joffe as 6-year-old Gordon "Gordo" Hersch
The film was greenlighted for production on January 21, 1999, although the script had been around much longer. Sylvester Stallone was rumored to be taking the role of Frank Sullivan in 1997, but fell out of the deal after a dispute over his fee. Renny Harlin was rumored to be director on the film. Gregory Hoblit first read the script in November 1997, eighteen months after his father's death. In a 2000 interview shortly after the American release of Frequency, he described the film as "high risk" since the project had already been passed among several directors, including one of note who had twice the budget Hoblit was given. In the same interview, he described the difficulty he had finding the two leads. Hoblit realized he needed an "experienced actor" to portray Frank Sullivan, and thus settled on Dennis Quaid.
Frequency received generally positive reviews. Based on 123 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 70% Approval Rating (Fresh) with the consensus as "a tight blend of surprises and suspense [that] keeps audiences spellbound". Roger Ebert called the film's plot "contrived", yet gave the film a favorable review. He also pointed out similarities with the films The Sixth Sense and Ghost. David Armstrong, of the San Francisco Chronicle, praised the moments in the film when John and Frank Sullivan talked to each other over the ham radio but criticized the "unintentionally funny climax". He also praised actor Shawn Doyle's performance as the Nightingale killer, calling him "convincingly creepy". Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine said despite Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel's physical separation in the film, they formed a "palpable bond that [gave] the picture its tensile strength". McCarthy noted that screenwriter Toby Emmerich's "bold leap into reconfiguring the past" created "agreeable surprises" and an "infinite number of possibilities" to the plot's direction. He added, however, that the serial killer subplot was "desperately familiar". James Berardinelli gave the film two stars out of four, criticizing the "coincidence-laden climax" but wrote that "poor writing [did] not demand subpar acting", praising Frequency's "few nice performances".
The American Radio Relay League assisted in some of the technical aspects in the film, but some ham radio operators who saw the movie criticized some of the details; for one thing, operating a station without a license is a federal offense (something that John, a police officer, should have known). Another problem was the use of a Heathkit SB-301 receiver used as a transceiver (transmitter/receiver combination in one box); Heathkit did make them in the same style of the SB-301 receiver, the SB-100 and later SB-101 and SB-102 models. Also, one character says "almost no one uses ham radio anymore"; in fact, the number of licensed ham radio operators has been climbing in the 21st century to new all-time highs, with nearly 750,000 licensed amateurs in the US alone. Another technical aspect that brought some complaints from hams was the way the conversation between son and father went from a PTT-style to full duplex/hands-free and hi-fidelity; this is impossible with any single-sideband modulation-type transmitter/receiver or transceiver. Overall, real ham operators, which includes numerous broadcast engineers and other professionals, liked the movie and the way amateur radio was portrayed in the movie.
Frequency made $68,106,245 worldwide and was released in 2,631 theaters in the United States. Frequency was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but ultimately lost out to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The film's ending song, "When You Come Back to Me Again", was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Written by Jenny Yates and Garth Brooks (performed only by Brooks), the song failed to win, losing out to "Things Have Changed" from Wonder Boys.
In November 2014, it was reported that Supernatural showrunner Jeremy Carver was in talks to produce a new television series adaptation/reboot based on the film for television network NBC. The film's writer Toby Emmerich is attached to serve as a producer for the series. NBC passed on it, and a pilot was ordered at The CW in January 2016
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- Armstrong, David (April 28, 2000). "Convoluted 'Frequency' in need of fine-tuning". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 27, 2007.
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- Heathkit#The SB-series and HW-series
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