Today’s review is on a little known 2005 time travel bank heist movie, and the second feature I’m spotlighting with the title of “Slipstream.”
“Slipstream” was directed by David van Eyssen, who interestingly doesn’t have any other directorial film credits. The writers, Phillip Badger and Louis Morneau, worked together previously on the 1997 film “Retroactive,” and each have a handful of credits to their names. Morneau in particular might be best known for directing the 1999 bomb, “Bats.”
The cinematography on “Slipstream” was provided by Sonke Hansen, a cinematographer and camera operator who has worked on films such as “Enemy At The Gates,” “Cloud Atlas,” and “Ninja Assassin.”
The special effects for “Slipstream,” which are somewhat extensive, were overseen by Mickey Kirsten. Kirsten has a solid handful of special effects credits since 2000, including work on “The Constant Gardener” and “Chronicle.”
The cast of “Slipstream” is headlined by Sean Astin (“The Lord of the Rings”) and Vinnie Jones (“The Midnight Meat Train,” “Snatch”), who each play their usual character types of a timid hero and a heavy, respectively. Most of the acting weight of the movie falls on the two of them, as well as Ivana Milicevic (“Vanilla Sky”), who rounds out the minimal central cast.
The story of “Slipstream” centers around Sean Astin’s character: a scientist who has helped develop a limited time travel device. In a baffling act that defies any kind of sense, he absconds with the device in order to flirt with a local bank teller, which apparently required time travel for him to pull off. The complication occurs when the bank is robbed by Vinnie Jones during Astin’s awful courting attempt, which rapidly snowballs into tragedy and subsequent time travel shenanigans.
“Slipstream” currently holds a score of 4.6 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 34% (audience) and 0% (critics). Each score pulls from a relatively small sample size, but all of them are well into the negatives no matter how you cut it.
While the special effects in “Slipstream” aren’t awful, especially given what I assume was a small budget, there are certainly a lot of overdone elements. In particular, there is an excess of slow motion sequences throughout the film, which are typically used to indicate the activation of the time travel device. However, it does become quite repetitive after it is used a couple of times.
The character writing in “Slipstream” is pretty far from fantastic. In particular, Astin’s character struck me as a total creep as opposed to just an awkward protagonist, which makes it harder to relate to him as the lead. There is also an attempt to get the audience to feel for Vinnie Jones’s villain character, which doesn’t make much sense given how ruthless and murderous he is throughout the story. It doesn’t help that the attempts to characterize him are pretty shallow, specifically through some awkwardly artificial banter between him and his partner about various crime movies.
Personally, I feel like this movie would have been better if it never left the bank building, or at least not until the last act. The audience and characters don’t get much time to relate to the surroundings, which is usually one of the most fun aspects of time travel films. Instead of playing with the possibilities of the bank setting and the events of the robbery, the story winds up in a real rush to get away from the premise, which leads to it getting a bit off the rails. There is a reason this isn’t as highly regarded as films like “Run Lola Run” or “Groundhog Day.”
Perhaps the biggest issue with “Slipstream” is that the aspirations for the story exceeded the budget that was available to the team. While the effects aren’t bad for the money involved, the movie as a whole would have dramatically benefited from higher quality work. The whole movie just looks and feels cheaper than the interesting concept justifies. This isn’t just limited to the effects, either: but the casting, directing, and dialogue all seem to be stuck in the same boat.
Overall, “Slipstream” is a bit of a disappointment given the interesting premise. The trailer is frankly far more interesting than the movie itself. That said, despite all of the flaws with it, this is probably one of the better television science fiction movies from the era, and is a welcome change of pace from the various hybrid monster movies and “Lake Placid” sequels that were popping up at the time.
As far as a recommendation goes, this doesn’t quite fall into the realm of “good-bad.” It also isn’t anywhere near good, landing decidedly in the realm of mediocre. I don’t think it quite merits the low ratings it has, but it certainly doesn’t earn an overall positive score in my book. I’d generally advise skipping it, unless you are just a huge fan of time travel stories.