Frequency (film)

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For 2013 science fiction romance film, see Frequencies (film).
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
Edited 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 $31 million[1]
Box office $68.1 million[1]

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.[2]


In 1999, NYPD detective John Sullivan (Caviezel) is still mourning the death of his father Frank (Quaid), a firefighter, thirty years ago. Still living in the same house where he grew up in Queens, he discovers his father's Heathkit single-sideband ham radio and begins transmitting radio signals. Because of highly localized electro-temporal spatial effects caused by unusual aurora borealis activity, John makes contact with his father exactly 30 years in the past on the day before Frank's death in a warehouse fire. Before the connection cuts out, John shouts the circumstances that led to Frank's death. The next day as little things brought up in their conversation prove true, Frank believes and heeds John's words to safety. Father and son reconnect on the ham radio set that evening, with Frank sharing his dreams and hopes for his son, and John recounting the details of the Mets-Orioles World Series, which is just beginning in Frank's timeline in 1969.

John discovers that in the new timeline, his mother, Julia Sullivan (Elizabeth Mitchell), was murdered by a serial killer shortly after Frank's survival. His mother's killer, called the "Nightingale Killer," had originally murdered three nurses before he vanished. Some event in the new timeline made it so his victims now numbered ten, with Julia as the sixth. Using information from 1999 police files on the impending seven killings, John and Frank work across the gap of time to stop the murderer in 1969. Frank averts the murder of the first expected victim, but when he tries to protect the next victim, a nurse named Sissy Clark, the killer attacks him and takes Frank's driver's license. When he regains consciousness, Frank rushes to Sissy Clark's apartment and finds her corpse.

John realizes that Frank's wallet now has the killer's fingerprints. Following John's instructions, Frank hides the wallet, which remains undisturbed until John retrieves it in 1999 and takes it to his crime lab. The lab identifies the fingerprints as belonging to a now-retired detective named Jack Shepard (Shawn Doyle). He had been in the hospital the night of the warehouse fire, and Julia caught a potentially fatal error made by a doctor, saving his life. In the original timeline, she left work early due to Frank's death and never caught the mistake, resulting in Shepard's death as well. 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 the latest victim. Frank struggles to maintain contact with John as Satch argues with him. The resulting altercation knocks the ham radio off Frank's desk, and it stops transmitting. At the station, Frank escapes and searches Shepard's apartment for evidence. Satch, having learned about Frank's communication with his grown-up son, watches the 1969 World Series and realizes Frank has told the truth when events he described come true. Shepard is presumed dead after an underwater struggle with Frank, who is cleared of charges.

Frank repairs the radio, telling John that Shepard is dead and Julia is saved. Suddenly, in both 1969 and 1999, Shepard breaks into the Sullivan home. In the past, Shepard is distracted by Julia, allowing Frank to shoot off his hand. Jack flees the house. In 1999, Shepard is about to shoot John when his hand shrivels and vanishes. The house ripples and the furnishings change as the timeline corrects itself. Shepard is then shot and killed by an aged Frank, aware of the events of 1969 and anticipating Jack's return for the previous three decades, with the new alterations to the timeline having saved 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 and expecting a second child. Thanks to advice John previously gave him over the radio, his best friend, Gordo (Noah Emmerich), is wealthy and a lot happier. As John wins the game with a home run that allows himself and Frank to score, a montage is shown of John's life with his parents in the new timeline.



The film was greenlighted for production on January 21, 1999, although the script had been around much longer.[3] 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.[4][5] Renny Harlin was rumored to be director on the film.[4][5] 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.[6] 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.[6]


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".[7] 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.[8] 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".[9] 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".[10] 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".[10] 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]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.


Home release[edit]

Frequency was released on VHS on April 3, 2001 and on DVD on October 31, 2001. It was later released on Blu-ray on July 10, 2012.[15][16][17]

Television adaptation[edit]

Main article: Frequency (TV series)

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.[18] NBC has since passed on it, and a pilot was ordered at The CW in January 2016 [19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Frequency (2000) - Box Office Mojo". 
  2. ^ "Frequency — DVD Review". Total Film. March 1, 2001. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Hoblit time-trips; old script scores for Iliff". Variety. January 21, 1999. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Cox, Dan (June 6, 1997). "Sly eyeing New Line's 'Frequency'". Variety. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Busch, Anita M. (June 27, 1997). "INSIDE MOVES". Variety. Retrieved July 13, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Sragow, Michael (May 25, 2000). "What's the "Frequency," Gregory?". Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Frequency (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 13, 2010. 
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 28, 2000). "Frequency (2000)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  9. ^ Armstrong, David (April 28, 2000). "Convoluted 'Frequency' in need of fine-tuning". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b McCarthy, Todd (April 17, 2000). "Frequency". Variety. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  11. ^ Berardinelli, James (2000). "Frequency". ReelViews. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  12. ^ Heathkit#The SB-series and HW-series
  13. ^ "Frequency (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  14. ^ "The Golden Globe nominations". BBC News Online. December 21, 2000. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Frequency [VHS] (2000)". Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Frequency (2000)". Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Frequency [Blu-ray] (2012)". Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ Lesley Goldberg. "NBC Plots 'Frequency' Reboot With 'Supernatural' Boss (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  19. ^

External links[edit]