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‘Synchronic’ (review)

Produced by Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead,
David Lawson Jr., Michael Mendelsohn

Written by Justin Benson
Directed by Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Starring Jamie Dornan, Anthony Mackie,
Ally Ioannides, Katie Aselton, Bill Oberst Jr.

 

Uneven but intelligent and involving sci-fi film from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, whose earlier film, Spring, quite impressed me.

Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan play paramedics in New Orleans who each have a fair amount of personal problems.

Steve (Mackie) drinks too much and has a love life that consists solely of one-night stands. Dennis has a supportive wife and daughter but feels strained by sleep deprivation due to his stressful job.

Steve’s life takes a turn for the tragic when he’s diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

As fate would have it, the pair keep coming across a mysterious, time-altering drug called Synchronic while on the job.

So, when Dennis’ daughter goes missing, Steve decides to experiment with Synchronic in the hopes of tracking her down before he succumbs to his brain tumor.

There are a handful of scenes and moments – mostly in the early reels – that felt a bit awkward or artificial to me.

But thankfully, the majority of the film is an accomplished, exciting and sometimes moving sci-fi/drama.

The film has a genuinely trippy opening, followed by an effective setup of Steve and Dennis’ relationship.

By the time things start going haywire, we’re invested in the situation and these characters, making the observations about “savoring the now” all the more resonant.

The time-bending aspects of the script certainly call to mind such films as Twelve Monkeys and Inception, but never feel overly derivative.

The science fiction elements are potent and imaginative, but it was the emotional core that had the biggest impact on me.

All of these pluses along with excellent use of New Orleans locations make Synchrony a slightly flawed but fascinating film, and a true must-see for fans of time travel stories.

Synchronic is now playing in drive-Ins and select theaters

 

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