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Directed by Gregory Hoblit
Produced by Gregory Hoblit
Hawk Koch
Toby Emmerich
Bill Carraro
Written by Toby Emmerich
Starring Dennis Quaid
James Caviezel
Elizabeth Mitchell
Andre Braugher
Shawn Doyle
Noah Emmerich
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Alar Kivilo
Editing by David Rosenbloom
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) United States:
April 28, 2000
United Kingdom:
June 16, 2000
Running time 118 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$31,000,000
Gross revenue US$68,106,245

Frequency is a 2000 film that contains elements of the time travel, thriller, and alternate history film genres. It was directed by Gregory Hoblit and written by Toby Emmerich. The film stars Dennis Quaid and James 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 and was released in DVD format on October 31, 2000.[1]



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 wage.[3][4] Director Renny Harlin was also rumored to be director on the film.[3][4] Gregory Hoblit first read the script in November 1997, eighteen months after his own 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]

Brian Greene, who served as the physics consultant on the film, appears in a featured television show in both 1969 and 1999.[6]


The film is set 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 Sullivan (Quaid), thirty years ago. Living in the same house where he grew up, he discovers his father's ham radio following a breakup with his girlfriend, and begins transmitting.

Because of unusual aurora borealis activity, John discovers he has managed to make contact with his father exactly 30 years in the past shortly before the date of the warehouse fire that would kill Frank. John is able to warn his father of the fire that would have otherwise taken his life, and although Frank initially disbelieves that John is his future son, he heeds John's advice when he realizes that John accurately described the outcome of Game 2 of the 1969 World Series.

Having saved his father from the fire, John creates a new timeline, while paradoxically retaining his memory of the old. In this altered timeline, Frank instead dies of lung cancer from chain-smoking, and John's mother Julia "Jules" Sullivan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is murdered by a serial killer. In the old timeline John's mother left her job as a nurse at a hospital to attend to Frank's funeral arrangements. In the new timeline, she remains at work and is present to save the life of a man who is later revealed to be the "Nightingale killer", a man who would have died that night from being given a mix of Benazepril and Benadryl had she not been there to save him. The "Nightingale killer", in the erased timeline, had killed only three nurses before his death, the corpse of one of the victims not being discovered until 1999. Having been saved from death, he goes on to kill a total of ten women; his sixth victim is Julia.

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. 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 Nightingale killer's fingerprints are now on Frank's wallet. John tells his father to empty and hide that wallet in the house where it will remain untouched for 30 years. Once Frank accomplishes this, it suddenly appears in 1999 in the same spot. John takes the wallet to the crime lab and learns that the fingerprints belong to a now-retired detective named Jack Shepard (Shawn Doyle). However, with his driver's license having been planted at the latest murder scene by the killer, Frank becomes a suspect of the murders and is taken in for questioning by his police detective friend (and John's later boss), Satch DeLeon (Andre Braugher).

At the station, Frank is confronted by Shepard, but Frank subdues him and escapes the station. Later searching for evidence in Shepard's apartment, Frank is caught in the act by Shepard and chased to a stockyard. With Satch convinced of Frank's story by his accurate prediction of the outcome of the World Series, Satch discovers Shepard's guilt and Frank is cleared of all suspicion after a fight in which Shepard is presumed dead. However, John knows this cannot be true because his 1999 family photo still shows his mother absent: she was still murdered.

That night, while the two are talking on the radio, Shepard suddenly breaks into the Sullivan household, both in 1969 and 1999. Just as Shepard is strangling John in 1999, Frank gets a shotgun and blows off the killer's hand in 1969. In 1999, Shepard's hand suddenly shrivels and vanishes before his eyes; the house suddenly changes as if someone else lived there. Out from the shadows comes the living Frank, who shoots Shepard again, killing him. In this final timeline, Frank neither died in the warehouse fire, nor from lung cancer, having quit smoking at his son's request.

The film concludes with a neighborhood baseball game in 1999. Frank and Julia are there, along with John, his wife (the girlfriend who had left him in the original timeline) and his son, Frank Jr..


Actor Role
James Caviezel John Sullivan
Dennis Quaid Frank Sullivan
Shawn Doyle Jack Shepard
Elizabeth Mitchell Julia 'Jules' Sullivan
Andre Braugher Satch DeLeon
Noah Emmerich Gordo Hersch


Frequency received generally good reviews along with several mixed. It has a 71% Approval Rating (Fresh) from Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus as "a tight blend of surprises and suspense [that] keeps audiences spellbound". 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 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]

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".[10]

Frequency made US$68,106,245 worldwide and was released in 2,631 theaters in the United States.[11] 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.[12] 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.


  1. ^ "Frequency — DVD Review". Total Film. 2001-03. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  2. ^ "Hoblit time-trips; old script scores for Iliff". Variety (magazine). 1999-01-21. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  3. ^ a b "Sly eyeing New Line's 'Frequency'". Variety (magazine). 1997-06-06. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  4. ^ a b Busch, Anita M. (1997-06-27). "INSIDE MOVES". Variety (magazine). Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  5. ^ a b Sragow, Michael (2000-05-25). "What's the "Frequency," Gregory?". Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  6. ^ "Info & Tidbits on Frequency". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (2000-04-28). "Frequency (2000)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  8. ^ Armstrong, David (2000-04-28). "Convoluted 'Frequency' in need of fine-tuning". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  9. ^ a b McCarthy, Todd (2000-04-17). "Frequency". Variety (magazine). Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  10. ^ Berardinelli, James (2000). "Frequency". ReelViews. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  11. ^ "Frequency (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  12. ^ "The Golden Globe nominations". BBC News Online. 2000-12-21. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 

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