Time Travel Thursday: Time Runners (2013)
Time travel tropes3
Matthew Turner | On 09, Sep 2021
Director: Thomas Gomez Durham
Stars: Alesandra Durham, Joel Bishop, Terence Goodman, Ian Paul Freeth, K. Danor Gerald, Chris Laird, Anne Sward
Where to watch Time Runners online in the UK: Amazon Prime
Has Palm Springs whetted your appetite for more time travel titilation? Transport yourself no further than Time Travel Thursday, our column devoted to time travel movies. It’s on Thursday.
Originally known as both 95ers: Time Runners and 95ers: Echoes, this low-budget 2013 time travel thriller was clearly intended to be the first of a whole series of 95ers movies. Unfortunately, director-slash-co-writer Thomas Gomez Durham lacks the storytelling talent to match his obvious ambition and the result is a barely coherent mess.
Throughout the film, Durham has an annoying habit of laying out scenes in seemingly random order. If the intention is for the audience to slowly work out what’s going on for themselves, then the eventual reward in no way justifies the effort.
After an endless series of confusing flashbacks and a glimpse inside what appears to be a futuristic monitoring station, the main characters eventually become clear. Alesandra Durham (there are a lot of Durhams in the credits, suggesting Thomas got his entire family involved) plays FBI Agent Sally Jo Biggs, who’s eight months pregnant with the child of her recently deceased husband, Horatio (Joel Bishop).
It’s then revealed that Sally has the ability to rewind time by nine seconds, which leads to her recruitment by boss Hamilcar T Grandon (Terence Goodman), who tells her that her husband is not dead, but trapped in time, as the result of his secret time travel experiments. Meanwhile, Sally keeps seeing time echoes of Horatio, and begins to wonder if sinister forces from the future are attempting to change the past and erase him from existence.
The storytelling is aggressively non-linear throughout and it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on at any given time, let alone who we’re supposed to be rooting for in each scene. Eventually, there’s a classic time travel plot revelation that sort of explains what we’ve been watching, but it’s too little too late by that point.
Speaking of time travel tropes, there are some nice little details, such as the visualisation of timelines in the future, but very little in the way of actual time travel fun. Even Sally’s much-vaunted time-rewinding skills only seem to get used to make her seem cleverer at work, or to stop minor accidents, such as salt spillages.
The performances don’t help matters either. Durham (Alesandra) just about holds her own as Sally, but the rest of the cast are either very one-note or actively terrible. The biggest offender is Ian Paul Freeth, who not only delivers every line excruciatingly badly, but does it with a jarring Brummie accent to boot.
On top of that, the pacing and editing are all over the place, to the point where the film is actually hard to watch at times. That’s particularly true when the film starts deploying what’s presumably meant to be a quirky touch whereby there are few frames missing every so often, but it just ends up looking like a streaming glitch.
Considering the film was so obviously conceived as a franchise-starter, it’s surprising how little is made of the whole “95ers” concept. Supposedly, it refers to people who were born on the I-95 highway and have time travel powers as a result, but you’d struggle to get that from the script.
In the end, Time Runners proves a frustrating and ultimately unrewarding experience, fatally scuppered by poor direction and a confusing script. Indeed, it’s so confusing that the Amazon Prime version of the film contains an unskippable trailer that plays like a prologue in an attempt to make things a bit clearer from the beginning. It doesn’t help.
Time Runners is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.