Roughly two minutes after Jerry Bruckheimer’s name and production insignia have flashed across the opening titles, a New Orleans passenger ferry explodes, killing 500 people. It’s the stock American Tragedy the government has been waiting for to try out a new piece of kit: a time portal that leads four days and seven hours (why?) into the past. Denzel Washington is the charismatic investigator invited on to a special unit (led by a worryingly plump Val Kilmer) to stop patriotic loon Jim Caviezel from teaching the world a lesson with his trusty pick-up truck full of explosives.
Scott’s customary tics and traits are all here, from the washed-out palette to his patented inability to keep the camera still for anything nearing a second (it’s as if he’s directing every shot from the cockpit of a helicopter with half his mind on the controls and the other on his half-lit stogie). Take away a couple of neatly staged action sequences and you’re left with a callously measured slab of US jingoism that deals with the most horrific human tragedies in the most lunk-headed and insulting way possible. But the message is clear: don’t worry, people, the forces of evil have been licked. Thank God for time travel.