Timecrimes (aka Los Cronocrímenes) Review

Nacho Vigalondo’s scifi thriller is novel because it’s so ordinary. John steps back in time with the new Optimum disc

The Film

The set-up for this Spanish time travelling thriller doesn’t sound too ambitious. A middle aged man is sent back in time by all of one hour. No sexy star, no hundred years into the future or past, no lasers, sex machines or Queen Victoria in a carriage. This is obviously a disappointment if you like your sci-fi outlandish or plain wacky, because Timecrimes is about the damage caused by meddling in fractions.Our portly Hector has a lovely home in a desirable rural location, a wife keen on kitting their palace out and a lot of sleep to catch up on. In his deckchair he sees images in the woods nearby and with his binoculars and an absent wife he is soon enjoying the charms of an anonymous hottie. Dragged into the woods by his own voyeurism he finds the woman passed out and naked, and a man disguised by a bloody bandage stabbing then chasing him. He manages to hide in the secret science base next door and is soon taking refuge in a huge clam like bath which encloses him and wakes him one hour before he entered it.

Hector is then faced with the image of his past self with his own wife, and he does his best to make sure that the lost hour goes exactly as it had before so he can rejoin events. Still this proves dangerous and difficult, and he is driven to extremes, and further extremes, to get things back to normal. Events conclude with the innocent harmed and Hector having to live with his future and past sins.The desire to make a movie that doesn’t feature outlandish effects, a gorgeous young lead and a fight to save the world is a laudable one that the writer director pulls off with twists and turns of head spinning complexity. Hector is caught up first with his voyeurism and then lost in the butterfly effects of the changes he makes to the recent past, he finds himself at war with the succeeding versions of himself and in way over his head.

This all delivers a veritable Russian Doll of a thriller that manages some originality on the tired old theme of time travel by resolving to avoid genre cliché. The tension doesn’t quite sustain as the story wraps around for the last time and the emotional impact of the final resolution Hector makes with events is left to linger rather than being explored. Still this is entertaining with an admirably normal hero and fast paced enough to not leaving you looking for plot holes or logic lapses.Timecrimes is a dependable, entertaining sci-fi movie that succeeds in its anti-generic aspirations.

Transfer and Sound

The transfer has a pleasing filmic appearance with no obvious sharpening of the image or manipulation of edges. This does mean that it can look a little soft but there is excellent contrast and management of the very dark palate of greys, greens and brown/blacks. It could look brighter or more detailed but I am not sure what point that would serve for a film large shot in twilight and near darkness.The unfussy but solid treatment of the film extends to the sound where stereo and 5.1 tracks are offered with the first recorded at 192kbps and the second up at 448kbps. The quality is reasonably comparable between the two with good clarity and management of the music but the surround mix allows the score and atmospherics to hit home more with good use of the rear and side channels and strong bass. The subs are removable, clean to look at and clear to read.

Discs and Special Features

This is a single layer release with the sole extra of the trailer. The Spanish release boasts a making of documentary, interviews , deleted scenes, featurettes and some of these extras are on the region one release too, so the haul here is a little pitiful. It is available quite cheaply though and has cleverly designed, easy to use, menus.


An interesting attempt to deliver sci-fi that’s fresher for its relative normality, and a good transfer to boot.

John White

Updated: Apr 27, 2009

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