J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Time Renegades: Time Travel Dreams

When it comes to time ripples, dead butterflies are the least of Kim Gun-woo’s concerns. He is determined to prevent murders both in the present day and the past. So is his ally, Baek Ji-hwan, a high school music teacher destined to die in the early 1980s. Thanks their strange psychic connection, the two men will share information with each through dreams of their respective lives. The Butterfly Effect takes a quite beating in Kwak Jae-young’s time-shifting thriller, Time Renegades (trailer here), which opens today in the Tri-State Area.

On New Year’s Eve 1982, Baek was badly stabbed while chasing the mugger who grabbed his girlfriend Seo Yoon-jung’s purse. Fortunately, he was revived in the hospital. On New Year’s Eve 2014, the hospital uses the same old defibrillator to revive Kim when he is shot while arresting a perp. Somehow, the two men become linked through time. When they dream, they watch the other man’s life unfold. As a result, Kim also develops an attachment to Seo. Therefore, he is rather shocked to meet Jung So-eun in his own time. She is the spitting image of Seo and also happens to teach physics at the same high school.

Unfortunately, Kim will also be quite disturbed when Seo is murdered by a serial killer in the early 1980s. However, Baek will use information gleaned from the cop’s access to case files and old new clippings to prevent further killings. As if the stakes were not already high enough, Kim learns the killer has already/will eventually murder/ed the wife of his seriously intense captain.

The first half of Renegades is cleverly plotted and surprisingly poignant. At around the midway point, all the internal time-space-continuum logic breaks down, but adrenaline takes over in its place. When stuff radically changes as a result of Baek’s actions, just go with it and don’t sweat the pedantic fiddlesticks.

Lee Jin-wook is a solid action lead as Kim the rookie copper, but Jo Jung-suk gets the better of him as Baek, a Wrong Man-style everyman, but with a generous extra dose of fierceness. However, Im Soo-jung outshines everyone as Seo and Jung. Thanks to her sensitive portrayal, Renegades works both on the level of a Richard Matheson Twilight Zone episode and his fantastical romantic novels, like Somewhere in Time.

There is no shortage of loose ends in Renegades, but it also delivers some well-earned emotional payoff. Kwak sets up screenwriter Go Jung-woon’s clever premise rather deftly and the first rate cast pulls us through. In a way, the vibe is not unlike that of Gregory Hoblit’s unfairly under-appreciated Frequecy, with Jim Caviezel. Recommended for fans of time travel science fiction and cross-genre serial killer movies, Time Renegades opens today (4/22) at the AMC Bay Terrace in Queens and the Edgewater Multiplex in New Jersey.

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