Before long, a group of five students, led by Chris (Paul Walker), the professor's son, Marek (Gerard Butler), the professor's assistant, and Kate (Frances O'Connor) a fellow student and Chris's crush, are off to New Mexico to find out what happened to the Professor. They find out that the Professor went back in time to the 14th century through the company's "3-D Fax Machine" to 14th century France on the eve of a big battle with England. The president of the company, Doniger (David Thewlis, looking like Bill Gate's evil twin) convinces the students to go back to rescue the Professor. One of the students, David Stern (Ethan Embry), stays behind because he doesn't like the idea of being reduced to electrodes and reassembled in the past.
I have to applaud the filmmakers for being able to cook down Michael Chrichton's incredibly dense book to a two hour movie and still have it be at least somewhat coherent. Ignored aspects from the book were the fact that the book had the characters learning Old English and French before going back and were able to speak it. Also gone is an amusing sub-plot of Chris being mistaken for Royalty.
The movie does keep the book's structure of moving between the students in the past and the scientists in present day trying hard to get everyone back.
Still, Timeline is a decent adventure with plenty of tense moments and good action, with a finale that is a pyromaniac's wet dream. The acting and directing is good and the story is quickly paced, even if it is at times downright predictable.
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