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“Trippy time-travel done with almost enough energy to cover the plot holes.”

It’s not often I criticise a film for too much explanation, but Retroactive might have been better off with more hand-waving. I’ll explain later; first, the plot. Travis plays Karen, a police negotiator who just screwed up badly; driving down South she ends up hitching a ride with Frank (Belushi) and his abused wife Rayanne (Whirry). Frank is a psycho, and Karen ends up sheltering in a secret lab where time-travel experiments are going on – she ends up with another chance to deal with Frank, only to discover this second attempt may not be an improvement…

This is a nifty little sleeper that seemed to get buried when Orion Pictures went belly-up. It deserved a better fate, with everyone turning in sterling performances, even if Karen’s reaction to being shot back in time is too calm and understated! Belushi makes a fine, creepy redneck, a sense of tension springing from your feeling he is capable of anything at any time. The deviations with each attempt are marked and cleverly written, and the ending is satisfactorily imperfect.

Our qualms were largely because, unlike Run Lola Run or Groundhog Day, which made no attempt to explain what was happening, here there’s just enough logic to be unsatisfying. The “rules” are clearly important – for example, do time-travellers keep their memories? – yet are inadequately laid out. We spent the last 15 minutes with furrowed brows, trying to see if it made sense. It may, or may not, but either way was an unwelcome diversion in an otherwise pleasant surprise.

Dir: Louis Morneau
Star: Kylie Travis, Jim Belushi, Shannon Whirry, Frank Whaley

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