Disastrous complications come upon a man who stumbles upon a time machine in "Timecrimes." (Magnet Releasing)
A word to the wise: If you're looking for a place to hide, try to avoid time machines.
That's what happens to Hector (Karra Elejalde) in the mind-bending Spanish sci-fi flick "Timecrimes," and the complications are catastrophic.
Actually, it not only happens to Hector, it also happens to subsequent Hectors. It's that kind of movie.
Writer-director Nacho Vigalondo works from a wonderfully blank slate in this film, offering no glimpses into Hector's background, concentrating instead on his messed-up foreground. Luckily, that still gives him plenty to work with.
We meet Hector as he's coming home to the big house he apparently just moved into. He greets his wife (Candela Fernandez), takes a nap and then goes out to lounge on the lawn.
Conveniently carrying some binoculars along, Hector looks into the woods around his house and, to his surprise, spies a beautiful naked woman (Barbara Goenaga) up there. Intrigued, he gets up and starts walking to the spot where she seemed to be.
Within minutes, Hector has been stabbed and he's running for his life through the woods. He stumbles upon a remote house and that's where, oops, he ends up in a time machine that takes him back to a few minutes before he started his quest to find the naked lady.
Now, as anyone who has ever read a sci-fi book or seen a time travel movie knows, once you start messing around with the past, you're also messing around with the future.
But when Hector II sees Hector I set out on his mission, he becomes intent on establishing his claim as the real Hector.
Vigalondo's story thus begins tumbling over and over on itself as the future disrupts the past.
The key here is to keep things moving without letting the logical (or illogical) complications weigh down the action, and Vigalondo does this well.
It's also pretty nifty how he shoots an entire sci-fi script with no real special effects. Unless you consider the time machine -- which is sort of a hot tub filled with milk -- a special effect.
Hector and his sequels are run every which way through the wringer and Elejalde pulls it off by playing him as a somewhat obstinate existential sad sack.
Of course, in the sure-to-be forthcoming Hollywood adaptation, the character likely will be some buff martial arts expert.
But Kung Fu is useless when you're tangled up in time, a point "Timecrimes" makes again and again. And again and again. And again and...
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