Retroactive 1997 Movie Scene Jim Belushi as Frank holding a gun in front of a gas station

Retroactive [1997]

Highly underrated, original, and gripping, Retroactive is a different type of time travel movie. I know we’re all kind of wary of relatively unknown science fiction movies from the nineties but I assure you this one is worth watching. It feels like an indie road movie but it’s actually an intelligent masterpiece not afraid to get its hands dirty. We will talk more about that later. For now, I just want to tell you that a movie opens with a scientist trying to prove that he can turn the flow of time backward. If that doesn’t interest you in this movie, I don’t know what will.

Perhaps its cast consisting of one James Belushi looking like a highly combustible Elvis. Or a man you’re certain you know from somewhere, M. Emmet Walsh. And then you realize you know him from every possible movie from the eighties and nineties. Apart from those two fine-looking male specimens, we also have two absolutely stunning ladies in Shannon Whirry and Kylie Travis. We will be following a woman who hitches a ride with two mysterious strangers after her car breaks down. What happens next is a series of increasingly weird situations.

Retroactive is basically a road movie but its story widens this setting along with picturesque Texas landscapes. The conditions on the set were pretty grueling with high temperatures and constant windstorms. Also, for a time travel movie, this is a surprisingly violent affair. There will be a lot of shootouts, explosions, and chase scenes. Moreover, there will be a lot of intense and unpredictable situations. It’s exactly this unpredictability and volatility that makes Retroactive such a fun and exciting movie.

Karen is a police negotiator, on her vacation in Texas, looking to get away from all the daily stress. However, after a car accident, she must hitchhike to her next destination. A seemingly normal couple picks her up. Frank is a rather jolly fellow traveling with his wife Rayanne. What Karen didn’t know is that Rayenne cheated on her husband with a mysterious stranger. And when Frank finds out about this, all hell breaks loose. Not to mention that nearby is a government facility that supposedly researches time travel…

“Cool” themes are the following: time travel, route 666 vibe, and that southern atmosphere that is so specific that it almost feels like if I were to travel to Texas, I would feel at home. I’ve seen so many good movies dealing with this subject, which basically boils down to human nature. Retroactive is on top of all of that, a character-driven movie. We see how not only Frank evolves over time but also Karen as well. We see how emotions drive decisions and those decisions quickly escalate. Bare fucking human nature, jealousy, rage, and everything else under the sun.

Finally, I do not want to bore you too much. I just want to say that Retroactive is one of the most entertaining, action-packed, and engaging time travel movies I’ve seen in a long time. And it’s definitely worth watching a couple of times. If you’re looking for movies like Retroactive I do suggest you check out Timecrimes

Director: Louis Morneau

Writers: Michael Hamilton-Wright, Robert Strauss, Phillip Badger

Cast: James Belushi, Kylie Travis, Shannon Whirry, M. Emmet Walsh, Sherman Howard

Fun Facts: There are actually four time loops in the movie Retroactive. And outcomes for some of the characters are the same in all of them.


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