Timecrimes (2007)

Timecrimes (2007) – There are a couple different theories of time travel, at least as it applies to works of fiction. There’s the whole tangent universe theory as explained by Doc Brown in Back to the Future: when you change something it creates a new timeline. The more plausible, and often more interesting one is called the Novikov self-consistency principle. Namely, it is impossible to create time travel paradoxes. If you go back in time and do something, it is already done and already part of the timeline. You have changed nothing. Example: there was an episode of The Twilight Zone (2002 version) where Katherine Heigl was sent back in time to get a job as a nanny with a nice Austrian family and kill their baby Adolph before he could grow up and lead the Third Reich. She had a few qualms about murdering a baby, but eventually got up the nerve grabbed the baby and jumped with it into the river so she wouldn’t have to live with the guilt of infanticide. The Hitlers’ housekeeper sees this, and replaces baby Adolph with her own baby… the one who grows up to be a genocidal dictator. Heigl’s action ENSURED the rise of Hitler instead of preventing them. Twist! Anyway I don’t often summarize TV shows in my movie reviews but it’s thematically connected.

Héctor (Karra Elejalde) and his wife Clara (Candela Fernández) live in the Spanish countryside, where they are fixing up their house. Clara goes out for groceries while Héctor is messing around with his binoculars. He sees a woman (Barbara Goenaga) undressing in the woods. Being both curious and also a man, Héctor decides to go investigate. He finds the naked young woman unconscious and is promptly attacked by a man with a bandaged face. He flees, eventually taking refuge in a nearby lab where a young scientist (director Nacho Vigalondo) helps him “hide” in a machine that sends him several hours back in time. Héctor just wants to go back home, but the scientist explains that he cannot do ANYTHING to change the timeline. Soon enough, Héctor is working to make sure the timelines goes exactly the same, even doing some horrible things to ensure that it does (some of you probably already know where this is going).

First let me start with something that some people might consider a problem for the movie: Héctor is an idiot. He does the wrong thing at just about every turn. Of course there are questions of free will involved in the situation too. He does some things just because his future-self had already done them, but if he’s only doing them for that reason then who made the decision to do them in the first place and oh shit, I’ve got cross-eyed. There are also a lot of little details that foreshadow things that happen later, but you would never notice them unless you were looking for them (much like a certain shadow in the pilot episode of Futurama). Timecrimes came highly recommended by critics and I will say that it is good, but not really great. My former astrobiology professor had it ranked as one of only five science fiction movies to feature reasonably accurate science (the time travel flick Primer was another). Now Timecrimes is nowhere near a mindfuck on the level of Primer, but it’s a nifty little time travel thriller that may be worth checking out some time.

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