Time After Time (1979)

“What have I done? I’ve loosed that bloody maniac upon Utopia!”

Time After Time Poster

Synopsis:
To escape the police, Jack the Ripper (David Warner) steals a time travel machine designed by H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) and travels to 1970s San Francisco; Wells pursues him, and finds himself falling in love with a sweet bank teller (Mary Steenburgen) whose life is soon put in danger.

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Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “entertaining, extremely clever thriller” is witty, features “terrific suspense”, and contains “three outstanding lead performances”. Warner is particularly “memorable as the vicious, intelligent” Jack the Ripper, who finds himself completely at home in a “modern” world full of violence and sexual freedom; he’s a slick, womanizing, articulate psychopath who knows exactly how to get what he wants. Meanwhile, McDowell and Steenburgen are “completely charm[ing]” as a couple (both on-screen and in real-life), with McDowell especially noteworthy as the bespectacled Wells, who manages to cope quite admirably with the “loose” society he suddenly finds himself thrown into. Yet one shouldn’t think too closely about the logistics of Wells traveling to the future, then coming back to write the remainder of his famous corpus of books, since the film’s historical veracity starts to break down at around this point… Instead, Time After Time should be watched simply for its suspense, thrills, and clever conceit.

Note: Director Nicholas Meyer would return to the concept of time travel for his contribution to the “Star Trek” film enterprise, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Malcolm McDowell as Wells
    Time After Time Wells
  • David Warner as Jack the Ripper
    Time After Time Warner
  • Mary Steenburgen as Amy
    Time After Time Steenburgen

Must See?
Yes, as a clever and enjoyable sci-fi flick.

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