When Time Expires

Dir: David Bourla
Star: Richard Grieco, Cynthia Geary, Mark Hamill, Ron Masak

Travis Beck (Grieco) is a time-travelling extra-terrestrial, who works for a group that keeps things temporally in check - think Time Lords, but without an actual TARDIS. Beck was demoted after a previous mission went wrong, and as a result, has been sent to Earth for an apparently simple task, that involves dropping a quarter into a parking-meter at a precise moment. However, as soon as he arrives on Earth - dumped naked, 20 miles from his intended destination - he begins to wonder whether this job is as banal as it seems, and he discovers that there are apparently also those on Earth who have no intention of letting Beck complete his job. With the help of a helpful local (Geary), and his former partner (Hamill), as well as his liaison with home office, who takes the form of a used-car salesman in a TV advert, he has to figure out who he can trust, plus how to avoid those out to disrupt things, and get that quarter into the slot on time.

It's one of those cases where the problem is in the gap between idea - or rather, ideas, since the film has no shortage of them - and execution. Despite a decent cast, with a good number of other names and faces you might recognize, this never seems to get out of second-gear, ploddng along towards an ending that is more of a foregone conclusion than offering much of a twist. Even allowing that this is a) 15 years old, and b) made for cable channel Showtime, the effects are up to very little, in particular the digital work such as the guns used by the aliens, which would have been sent back on an episode of the original Star Trek. That said, this is quirky enough that it doesn't matter too much, since it's clearly not intended to be spectacle, so much as slightly-thoughtful SF fluff. Not sure it quite gets that far, and it badly needs someone like David Tennant, who can deliver a likeable persona, instead of Grieco. Still, it likely deserves to be ranked towards the top of his filmography, even if that's not saying very much.

[October 2012]

Lovely Grieco, meter maid
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