A word of warning before the review: I highly recommend Retroactive and suggest you go out of your way to see it in widescreen because the numerous action scenes and breathtaking desert cinematography are cramped and a pain to watch in pan-and-scan.
Relegated to a straight-to-video release, Retroactive is a smart and entertaining thriller that deserves a wider audience. The film features a relatively simple but clever premise: Superhottie Kylie Travis stars as Karen Warren, a police negotiator who's on vacation in Texas. She gets into a car accident and has to hitchhike with a somewhat odd, but seemingly friendly couple, Frank and Rayanne (James Belushi and Shannon Whirry).
But everything goes horribly wrong when Frank discovers Rayanne has been cheating on him and he murders her right in front of Karen's eyes, who proceeds to run to the nearest building, a government-owned complex run by a single occupant, a scientist named Brian (Frank Whaley). There, he accidentally activates the time travel device he was working on, sending Karen back twenty minutes, just as she's been picked up by Frank. She then becomes determined to stop the horrible crime for occurring, but unfortunately, the body count grows even larger and she must go back again to prevent an even larger massacre.
Retroactive's appeal holds mainly to sci-fi action fans. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, which keeps the film unpredictable and suspenseful. But the real treat is for action fans, who should strap in for an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. From the moment Travis is sent back in time, the film deliver non-stop excitement. There are tense shootouts and fast-paced car chases, the latter of which boasts some of the most exhilarating stunts since The Road Warrior. From a visceral point-of-view, Retroactive surpasses most of Hollywood's recent summer blockbusters.
The film still has its flaws, none of them surprisingly having to do with a sense of repetition, considering each action setpiece has the same basic setting and situation (car chase on a lonely desert highway, shootout at a gas station). Credit director Louis Morneau for keeping each sequence fresh and taut with suspense. The set-up may be the same, but the results and resolutions considerably differ. Rather, what I do have a problem with is some technical error during the shootouts. Belushi is shown firing a six-bullet revolver at one point, but clearly fires more than ten rounds. Another similar blatant miscalculation occurs again near the end. Plot holes and leaps of logic are expected in this kind of film, but the number of shots fired from a gun shouldn't be that hard to keep track of.
As the film's tough heroine, the absolutely gorgeous Kylie Travis is refreshingly intelligent and strong-willed. She occasionally has trouble holding back that British accent of hers, but still comes across quite well (looks great in that black tank-top, too). The only thing really holding her back is the fact that she's so gorgeous, it's a little tough to believe someone with her looks works as a cop (but I see her looks more as a plus, given what eye candy she is). James Belushi is a lot of fun as the psychotic villain, clearly relishing the over-the-top role, even though his character does lose menace through some ridiculous one-liners. Frank Whaley is quite good as the young scientist, hampered only by a single scene that requires him to forget the logic of his own device which Travis corrects him on.
With blistering, fast-paced action and a fun story, Retroactive proves to be a highly enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes. Most of the running time features a tight tank-top and pants wearing Kylie Travis kicking ass, so that alone is enough to recomend the film.
*** 1/2 out of *****