Synchronic

As this was a film I missed at the last TIFF I was looking forward to seeing it. Plus I am a fan of Jamie Dornan so double bonus. But something about the film just did not hit the mark for me. Despite the attempt at tension and cool sci fi stuff, Synchronic struggled to hold my attention.

Have always thought it was great to work with friends or people you really like. Big bonus when you are doing a job like being a paramedic. The fact that Steve (Anthony Mackie – The Adjustment Bureau, The Hurt Locker) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan – Wild Mountain Thyme, Fifty Shades Freed) go way back and are best friends goes a long way. Steve never would have guessed how long a way until after receiving some bad news.

Working as paramedics in New Orleans does not come without its stresses and wild stories. The Big Easy is certainly known as a party town. With that comes plenty of accidents, violence and overdoses. So, in the beginning the emergence of a new designer drug is not really remarked upon by the two. When it becomes apparent that it is not only dangerous but might be having some otherworldly effects, an effect which might have something to do with the disappearance of Dennis’s daughter Brianna (Ally Ioannides – from television’s Parenthood), the two sit up and take notice.

Time travel. This has been a popular subject examined in novels, television and films of late. I mean, who would not want to travel out of our present time, right? But at a certain point it will reach the saturation point. For example, we do not see as many zombie films today as we did five years ago. That is usually because any one subject, no matter how interesting, reaches the limit of what can be done with it. Here co-directors Justin Benson (Spring), who also wrote the script, and Aaron Moorhead (A Glaring Emission) try to wring the last bit of juice out of this subject by adding a little bit of a twist to the whole thing. Usually time travel is kinda like Groundhog Day in that periods of time are relived over and over. Not so here…for the most part, anyways. By giving us the story in fragments and shifting quickly from one scene to another it makes it seem like time is shifting abruptly and often. This little trick is interesting. To give it even more depth there is a whole trying to escape death side to the story.

Now, I am all for exploration and strange films, but this one just ends up a mess and rather plodding in pace. You end up rather confused trying to figure out the Mackie time travel portions and then bored when it comes back to an examination of the private lives of the two main characters. Almost a damned if you do, damned if you don’t conundrum. The script does not help the two lead actors as it does not give them much to work with in regards to character development or dialogue.

Identity is pretty much paramount in film. Identity in regards to what type of film it is, who your characters are and what is the point of the story you are telling. At the end of Synchronic, which, oh yeah, is the name of the drug, I was not sure what any were about. Making me want to take a whole bunch of Synchronic and travel back to a time before I watched the film.

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