Frequency (2000) is a movie with a lot going on. A bit complicated, but it is essentially a film about an NYPD detective trying to catch a serial killer. As the only cop in a family of firefighters, it’s got a bit of everything I like; policework, firefighting, baseball, and a bit of sci-fi.
The movie is about NYPD Detective John Sullivan, played by Jim Caviezel. He is a jaded but good detective who’s pushing 40, has trouble keeping a relationship, drinks a bit too much, and is generally not too happy. He lives for work and not much else, and is still haunted by his father’s death 30 years earlier. His father, Frank Sullivan, played by Dennis Quaid, was an FDNY firefighter killed in a tragic blaze on the day the 1969 Miracle Mets World Series started.
John Sullivan finds his father’s old HAM radio in his house and attempts to repair it. Through a bit of sci-fi magic, his father comes over the radio. In his father’s time it is 1969, the day before the fatal fire that would claim his life. John is able to warn his father of the fatal fire and tragedy is averted, but the change in the past has a ripple effect. A serial killer was also supposed to die that day but survives. He goes on to kill numerous young women in New York City.
So it is 30 years later, and John Sullivan is trying to solve that case. As he elicits the help of his father in the investigation the movie shifts to a solid detective thriller. Father and son teaming up to stop the next murder adds an emotional punch and spurs some exciting drama.
The film does a good job at recreating 1969 Queens, New York. It also has the fire department and police department pegged pretty well. The uniforms, lingo, and overall feel all show the signs of a good consulting crew. Which is unsurprising; the movie was directed by Gregory Hoblit, the son of an FBI agent and the director of shows such as LA Law, Hill Street Blues, and NYPD Blue. Hoblit knows how to do cop drama and it shows in this film. He also takes a complex story with many moving parts and makes it pretty simple and easy to enjoy.
Quaid is his usual charismatic self, and Caviezel is great as the dark and troubled good guy. A solid supporting staff of Andre Braugher (Brooklyn 99) and Noah Emmerich (The Americans) help tell the story.
To fully appreciate this movie, you are going to have to buy into the sci-fi/time travel aspect that makes this film unique. Once you do, it works. A detective story, a story about a man and his son, and some solid action scenes make this an all-around memorable ride.
Frequency is available as a $3 rental on most streaming services. Couldn’t find it anywhere for free but it’s certainly worth three bucks. For a full list of where to watch check the justwatch website and app. You can find current info on where to watch any film or show for free or behind a paywall.