Saturday, January 12, 2013

Timecrimes (Los Cronocrimenes, 2007) ***

If there is one thing we’ve learned from movies, it’s that time travel causes problems.  You would think these mad scientists would learn, but they never do.
In the Spanish film “Timecrimes,” the hapless victim of the paradox of time travel is Hector.  While renovating his new home in the country, he sees some strange equipment in the woods.  He gets out his binoculars for a closer look, and then he sees something even more interesting: a woman in the woods taking off her clothes.  Clearly, the only logical thing to do in this situation is to hike out into the woods for a closer look.  There, Hector is attacked by a man with bloody bandages wrapped around his head.  Bandage-man pursues Hector onto some kind of compound that, it turns out, includes a time machine.  Hector seeks refuge in the machine, getting sent back in time and into an inescapable loop of paradox.
I enjoy the mind-twisting aspects of time-travel movies as much as the next guy.  Most just take the basic “Back to the Future” approach, where a character will disappear if he does something to change history and prevent himself from being born.  I prefer the films that have a bit more fun with the possibilities, and the low budget “Primer” is probably the best of the genre.  By having the characters make multiple trips back in time, including trips within trips, multiple versions of the same person can interact, pretty much making the viewer’s head explode from trying to keep up.  “Timecrimes” owes a big debt to “Primer.”  Unlike “Primer,” however, which I seem to recall held up pretty well to logical analysis, “Timecrimes” does contain a pretty glaring paradox that can’t be explained unless you are willing to sacrifice the traditional cause/effect relationship.
That’s not to say that “Timecrimes” isn’t a completely serviceable movie in its own right.  The film is written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo aptly enough that I plan to seek out his other film, “Extraterrestre.”  The acting is good, the plot is well-paced, and actress Barbara Goenaga looks great naked.  The presence of the bandaged man lends a real sense of menace.  Overall, this is a taut thriller, and worth watching.

3 stars out of 5

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