Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Film Reviews

Millennium (1989)
"The people aboard Flight 35 are about to land 1,000 years from where they planned to."

Directed by Michael Anderson


When Bill Smith (Kris Kristofferson), an airline crash investigator, is called in to investigate a crash in 1989, he begins to suspect that time travellers may have caused the crash. In reality the team of time travellers from the future, lead by Louise Baltimore (Cheryl Ladd) are rescuing passengers of doomed airline collisions in the past.


On paper Millennium looks promising, unfortunately somewhere during the execution the movie fails miserably. Part of the problem may be that the movie tries to hard to be something to everyone - romance, science fiction and mystery, when there isn't enough substance to keep all of these balls in the air. That's not to say that these elements can't work, you only have to look as far as Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys as an example of where it does succeed, but I digress.

Millennium as a movie is rather disappointing when you consider that author John Varley had a hand in adapting the screenplay from his own short story "Air Raid" [link to review of Air Raid here]. Given the author's involvement, I would have expected a smoother transition to the screen.

As for acting, Daniel J. Travanti nearly steals the show as Dr. Arnold Mayer, an eccentric professor who helps to convince Smith of the time travellers' involvement. Some of the Canadian actors, namely Maury Chauykin and Brent Carver, turn in wonderful supporting performances as well. Unfortunately, this effort is offset by Kristofferson and Ladd, whose performances feel as if they are acting in some movie of the week.

While the movie shifts between Louise (Ladd) and Bill's (Kristofferson) point-of-view in order to explore some of the time travel elements of the plot, it ultimately weakens the narrative of the story. Varley and the director do use this shifting narrative to explain the nature of the time travel depicted in the movie to us through the retelling of a sequence where Louise and Bill met. While the scene helps to show us the "new" perspective, it really doesn't add much to the story and only pads out the movie for another 20 minutes.

In Louise's timeline she hasn't met Bill yet when she retrieves the stunner from the hanger, yet Bill calls out her name since he recognizes her from their previous encounter. The council conclude that since Bill is already aware of Louise it must mean that something yet-to-happen in their own timeline will require Louise to go back to a prior time and meet Bill.

This logic however is ignored when they "rescue" a plane full of passengers from 1963 and interrupt a hijacking in the process. They conclude the hijackers must have caused the plane to crash and try to recreate the crash by placing a bomb in the plane to simulate the hijackers firing a gun in the cockpit. Applying their own logic, the hijackers never crashed the plane in the first place, the rescuers did and they are only fulfilling their destiny.

One of the more interesting concepts of the movie was the "Time Quakes" that would occur when potential paradoxes were created in the past. The shock waves of the altered timeline would cause physical quakes in future time line as the implications of the paradox cascaded across time.

While Millennium has its moments they are far and few between and not worth recommending as time travel movie. Die-hard fans of Kristofferson and Ladd may want to seek out the film, but then again they've likely already seen it. In that case they should be just seeking HELP!

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