|Original title: Los Cronocrímenes
|Rating: (3.5 / 5)
|Director: Nacho Vigalondo
|Duration: 92 min.
|Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Imagine the worst protagonist you can think of, and then imagine someone even worse. You’ll get Héctor, the lead character in Timecrimes. He’s a little overweight, kind of old, sluggish and he doesn’t have very great looks. Looks that don’t get any better as the film progresses. Within the first half hour or so he is stabbed in his arm and he sort of drowns. A few things he does have going for him is that he seems quite intelligent and that he does not give up easily. Those are the ingredients of Timecrimes, a complex story of time travel and a murder.
Things start off great. Héctor arrives at his new home with some stuff he bought. It seems that he and his wife Clara recently moved there. Then there’s a strange phone call. Dialing back gets him a strange answering machine. After some relational quarreling, Héctor sits himself down in his back yard. Armed with a pair of binoculars, he sees a stunning young brunette undress in the woods. Oh Héctor, you perv! His wife leaves in the car to do some more shopping, and Héctor decides to do some investigating. He finds the girl, now entirely naked, dead or passed out, leaning against a rock. As he kneels down, probably to feel her pulse, he is stabbed. Without thinking, he runs away as fast he can. Spoiler, that’s not very fast, or very far for that matter.
He sees a scary looking person wearing a black raincoat, and their head covered in blood soaked bandages. Several running-away scenes later, Héctor finds himself in some sort of laboratory, where he takes care of his stab wound. He finds a walky talky. Some guy up on some hill seems to have camera’s surveying the property, and he tells Héctor to come meet him. Mummy-guy is chasing him, first by foot, then by car. But Héctor makes it up the hill, no thanks to his endurance. Inside he meets the guy he talked to on the walky. This guy talks him into hiding inside some machine, as his chaser approaches. When Héctor is released, he finds that he has traveled an hour and a half or so into the past. He can even use his binoculars to see himself sitting in his back yard, spying on the undressing brunette.
This is where the film gets quite interesting. Of course every time travel film has its paradox, and this one has the bootstrap paradox. Imagine future you traveling back in time to the here and now, giving you plans to build a time machine. You build it, and the first thing you do is go back in time to give yourself the blueprints. Something along those lines happens here as well. Since there are two Héctors now, the timetravel one calls himself Héctor 2. He can’t interfere with Héctor 1, because then he might not travel back in time to become Héctor 2, and that might mean trouble. But, not interfering isn’t Héctor’s strong suit. The first thing he does is to call his wife. Remember that strange phone call two paragraphs up? Yeah, he was calling himself. And so he becomes part of what makes Héctor 1 do the things he did…
This film had a fairly low budget. It shows at times, but regardless of that the whole thing is actually very well done. Acting is solid, sets look fine, the story is really great. So yeah I guess there was no money left to cast any big stars, but who cares. Having a low profile lead only makes it better in my opinion. Who could imagine all these bad things happening to a hunky superstar anyway? Aside from the obvious paradox problem, I don’t think this film suffers from any weird plot issues. Sure it is confusing at times and it might require a second viewing for it all to make sense, but things seem to add up in the end. Finally a word of warning, do not ever watch the US Timecrimes trailer. It’s pretty much a 90 second synopsis of the entire film.