5ive Days to Midnight


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Rating: Not Rated

Timothy Hutton as J.T. Neumeyer
Randy Quaid as Irwin Sikorski
Kari Matchett as Claudia Whitney
Hamish Linklater as Carl Axelrod
Angus Macfadyen as Roy Bremmer
Gage Golightly as Jesse Neumeyer
David McIlwraith as Brad Hume
Giancarlo Esposito as Tim Sanders

Special Features:
Audio Commentary for Episode 1 and 4 by Director Michael Watkins and Director of Photography Joel Ransom

“The Formula for Design” Featurette

“Fractures of Time” Featurette

“Remixing Reality” Featurette

“Proving Density: The Weatherby Oak Tree Stunt” Featurette

Other Info:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
2.0 Dolby Stereo
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 255 Minutes

This film was originally released as a mini-series on the Sci-Fi Channel in early 2004. Here’s the official plot synopsis for the film:

“5ive Days to Midnight revolves around college professor J.T. Neumeyer, who stumbles upon a mysterious briefcase containing a police file filled with details of a gruesome murder — his own. The file, complete with photos of his bullet-strewn corpse and a list of suspects, indicates that the shooting will take place in five days.

J.T. is skeptical at first, but when events begin to mirror those in the report, he realizes that the file is genuine — and that his time is quickly running out. He has only days to solve the mystery of his own murder and, hopefully, change the course of the future.”

This film is not rated, but there is one scene of full frontal nudity in one episode (which I would guess wasn’t on the TV airing).

The Movie:
I missed 5ive Days to Midnight when it first aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, so seeing it on DVD was my first time to check it out. After watching the first half hour or so, I was definitely hooked. The premise of J.T. Neumeyer trying to solve his own murder was quite interesting to me. It was extremely similar to the recent film Paycheck, but I could forgive it for that. I was interested in seeing how all the puzzle pieces would fit together and who would end up being the real murderer. I developed a bunch of different theories along the way, but none of them were 100% right. While the ending wasn’t quite the payoff that I hoped for, the film had me interested up until the very end.

As mentioned, this film rehashes a lot of time travel concepts already covered in other films. It gets into trying to change the future by running away from known events that will happen. It gets into what happens if you try and change the future. It covers a lot of other time travel concepts which I won’t get into here. But as already mentioned, if you’re into the story, you won’t care about that much. And though the film is based on a sci-fi concept, the story is more of a murder mystery and drama than science fiction. The time travel portion is only a plot device to set the events in motion. They also throw a lot of potential suspects your way to throw you off the trail. This was successful for a little while, but not entirely.

The cast in the film is pretty good. Timothy Hutton is good as J.T. Neumeyer, the physics professor and future murder victim. He’s a likable character and he handles his character’s anger, confusion, frustration, sadness, and love very well. He also makes a good match with Kari Matchett as Claudia Whitney. She’s able to be sweet one moment and turn on a dark side the next. Randy Quaid is also excellent as Irwin Sikorski, the grizzled cop who aids Neumeyer. He’s almost unrecognizable at first since he’s almost bald and has packed on the pounds. Hamish Linklater is also good as Carl Axelrod, the eccentric student of Neumeyer. He definitely plays the character with an unsettling instability.

While the story was slightly predictable but entertaining, I didn’t care for the camerawork. It was often choppy and shaky. They also had a few effects shots where the camera spun around Neumeyer as he pondered equations. It seemed like a ripoff of A Beautiful Mind. I also have to say that I think the story could have successfully been condensed into a 2 hour film rather than a mini series.

If you like time travel films, murder mysteries, or Timothy Hutton, I think you’ll find 5ive Days to Midnight worth checking out.

The Extras:
There are a fair number of extras on this DVD, but they are more focused on the technical aspects of the making of the film rather than the story or acting. Here are the extras you’ll find:

Audio Commentary for Episode 1 and 4 by Director Michael Watkins and Director of Photography Joel Ransom – This commentary wasn’t that interesting to me. Ransom and Watkins seem to forget about the viewers a lot of the time and they spend more time reminiscing with each other about the shoot than providing information about the film.

“The Formula for Design” Featurette – This brief behind the scenes featurette goes over the props and sets used in the film. They discuss in detail the briefcase, the police file, Carl’s loft, and the strip bar. You get an appreciation for the fine attention to detail here.

“Fractures of Time” Featurette – This feature gets into the look of the film and how they used camera tricks to get the picture to look unique. They use high speed film, slow speed film, sound effects, and more to play around. The actors also talk about the challenges of shooting with three cameras at once, shooting out of sequence, etc.

“Remixing Reality” Featurette – This feature gets into the effects when the camera spins around J.T. and equations and surreal imagery swirl around him. They also feature the bullet effect and the time travel ripple effect.

“Proving Density: The Weatherby Oak Tree Stunt” Featurette – This feature goes into almost mind-numbing detail about how they made the tree fall in the film. It’s interesting how they rigged up the stunt, but it was almost overkill.

The Bottom Line:
5ive Days to Midnight is an entertaining murder mystery with a little bit of sci-fi thrown in. If you like films with time travel paradoxes an mysteries or if you like Timothy Hutton, you’ll want to check it out.