Frequency (film)

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Frequency film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gregory Hoblit
Produced by Gregory Hoblit
Hawk Koch
Toby Emmerich
Bill Carraro
Written by Toby Emmerich
Starring Dennis Quaid
Jim Caviezel
Andre Braugher
Elizabeth Mitchell
Noah Emmerich
Shawn Doyle
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Alar Kivilo
Editing by David Rosenbloom
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • April 28, 2000 (2000-04-28)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22,000,000
Box office $68,106,245

Frequency is a 2000 American science fiction thriller 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.[1]


In New York City during October 1999, John Sullivan (Caviezel), a 36-year-old homicide detective, is still traumatized over the death of his fireman father Frank (Quaid). Living in the same house where he grew up, he discovers his father's Heathkit single-sideband ham radio, following a breakup with his girlfriend Samantha (Melissa Errico), and begins transmitting radio signals. Because of highly localized electro-temporal spatial effects caused by unusual aurora borealis activity, John discovers he has managed to make contact with his father exactly 30 years in the past the day before his death in a warehouse fire. Though Frank doesn't believe it is John, John is able to shout out a warning about the fire that took Frank's life. The next day as he tries to escape a burning building Frank remembers John's words and escapes safely.

By saving his father from the fire, John has created a new timeline while retaining his memory of the old. At midnight, he tries calling his mother, but instead gets an answer from a deli. Later that day, John tries to patch up his relationship with Sam, but she does not remember him. John later discovers that in this new timeline Frank had died of lung cancer, and John's mother Julia Sullivan (Elizabeth Mitchell) was murdered by a serial killer. John is able to piece together that his mother's killer was called the "Nightingale Killer," a man who originally murdered three nurses before he vanished, but with the past changed he has now murdered 10, with Julia as the sixth. Using information from 1999 police files on the impending seven killings, John and Frank work together across the gap of time to stop the murderer in 1969 and save Julia and the other six nurses. Frank successfully averts the murder of the first expected victim, but when he tries to prevent the next, he is attacked by the killer in a nightclub bathroom and his driver's license is taken from his wallet. When he regains consciousness, Frank rushes to the woman's apartment only to find he is too late.

John realizes the killer's fingerprints are now on Frank's wallet and Frank is able to bag the wallet and hide it under a floorboard in the house, allowing John to retrieve it in 1999 and take it in to his crime lab. John learns that the fingerprints belong to a now-retired detective named Jack Shepard (Shawn Doyle). It is shown that the reason he now has more victims was because Julia left the hospital in the original timeline and was not there to save his life from a medical mistake. In this new timeline he presumably stopped after being caught up in the Knapp hearings. Meanwhile in 1969, Frank is arrested by Satch DeLeon (Andre Braugher), his friend and John's future partner, when police find Frank's driver's license with Jack Shepard's latest victim. As Frank struggles to continue speaking to John as Satch struggles with him, the ham radio is knocked off of Frank's desk and broken. At the station, Frank, using improvised skills from his veteran firefighting knowledge, is able to escape and searches Jack's apartment for evidence. Meanwhile Satch, having been told by Frank about his communications with his son, watches the 1969 World Series and realizes Frank has told the truth when events he described to him come true. Jack is presumed dead after a struggle with Frank and Frank is cleared of charges.

Frank returns home and repairs the radio, happily telling John that Shepard is dead and Julia is saved. However, John's photographs still include Julia's death. Suddenly, in both 1969 and 1999, Jack breaks into the Sullivan home. While father and son both fight Shepard, the past Shepard is distracted by Julia and Frank shoots off his hand with a shotgun, causing him to flee. In 1999, Jack is choking John when his hand shrivels and vanishes. The house ripples and the furnishings change as the timeline is adjusted, and Jack is shot and killed by an aged Frank, the new alterations to the timeline saving both him and Julia. The film concludes with a neighborhood baseball game in 1999. Frank and Julia are there, along with John, who is now married to the ex-girlfriend who left him in the original timeline. She is now pregnant and already has had one son with John. Also, due to some advice John gave him over the radio, his best friend Gordo's life is now better. As John wins the game with a home run that allows both himself and Frank to score, a montage is shown of John's life with his parents in the new timeline.


  • 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 greenlit for production on January 21, 1999, although the script had been around much longer.[2] 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.[3][4] Renny Harlin was rumored to be director on the film.[3][4] 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.[5] 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.[5]


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".[6] 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.[7] 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".[8] 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".[9] McCarthy noted the 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".[9] The national amateur (ham) radio organization, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), assisted in a little of the technical aspects, though ham operators who saw the movie criticized some of the details. One 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. [10] Why one of these were not used instead of the SB-301 receiver was a question brought up a lot, yet no one seemed to have an answer for it). Also, in the movie it was mentioned "almost no one uses ham radio anymore" but that was a false statement since the number of licensed ham radio operators has been climbing in the 21st century to new all time highs (almost 3/4 of a million licensed amateurs in the US alone). On top of that, one other technical aspect that brought a lot of critical complaints from licensed hams was the way the conversation between son and father went from a Push to Talk PTT style radio conversation to a full duplex/hands-free, hi fidelity conversation that is impossible with any single sideband (SSB) type transmitter/receiver or transceiver. Overall, real ham operators (which includes numerous broadcast engineers and other professionals, liked the movie and the way ham radio played in the movie though operating a station without a license is a federal offense and John should have known that, being a police officer.

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".[11]

Frequency made $68,106,245 worldwide and was released in 2,631 theaters in the United States.[12] 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.[13] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frequency — DVD Review". Total Film. March 1, 2001. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Hoblit time-trips; old script scores for Iliff". Variety. January 21, 1999. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Cox, Dan (June 6, 1997). "Sly eyeing New Line's 'Frequency'". Variety. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Busch, Anita M. (June 27, 1997). "INSIDE MOVES". Variety. Retrieved July 13, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Sragow, Michael (May 25, 2000). "What's the "Frequency," Gregory?". Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Frequency (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 13, 2010. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 28, 2000). "Frequency (2000)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  8. ^ Armstrong, David (April 28, 2000). "Convoluted 'Frequency' in need of fine-tuning". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  9. ^ a b McCarthy, Todd (April 17, 2000). "Frequency". Variety. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Berardinelli, James (2000). "Frequency". ReelViews. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Frequency (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  13. ^ "The Golden Globe nominations". BBC News Online. December 21, 2000. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 

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