Time travel has essentially been a staple of the film industry for quite some time now. In fact, it’s basically grown into its own genre at this point. And although it’s completely fiction, the time travel genre has even developed its own set of rules that many stand by. That’s one of the reasons why it’s good to have something come through to challenge the status quo. The latest film to do that comes in the form of Synchronic.
When a pair of New Orleans paramedics and best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dorman) are called to the scene of some gruesome accidents, they assume they’re from a new party drug that’s been flooding the streets. However, when Dennis’ oldest daughter disappears without a trace, things become even more devastating. Distraught and frustrated, Steve takes it upon himself to investigate and stumbles upon a truth that’s terrifying and will change the way he sees both life and time.
I understand the need to build things up in film. In the opening act, you’re letting viewers get to know the characters while also introducing us to the story. This is a vital piece of filmmaking that will never and should never go away. With that being said, there’s a way to go about things to make this not only effective but entertaining and/or intriguing.
Synchronic struggles with finding a balance in this regard. During this period, the feel of the movie is dry and the energy is too low. To make things worse, it moves too slowly. I don’t think you can have a movie this dry and somber and have it move as slowly as this does in terms of the main story. Because that’s what happens here, I found it difficult to get attached to what was going on.
You have to get energy from somewhere and Synchronic was unable to find that for the first 45 minutes or so. They’re setting things up and moving forward with the main storyline, but they’re moving at a snail’s pace doing it. Of course, there’s no reason for this. All that happens is that things drag more than they should. To be completely honest, at points, I felt like turning it off but forced myself to keep going with the hope that things would improve.
Luckily, my gamble paid off as things did get better once all of the groundwork was laid out. The movie as a whole begins to move at an acceptable speed and the characters become people you might actually be willing to follow over the course of a film. In reality, the character that comes alive the most is played by Anthony Mackie. Obviously, with him being the film’s protagonist, that’s not a big surprise.
We’ve seen Mackie do this in the past with smaller roles, but Synchronic is a rare case for the veteran actor to take the lead and show how engaging he can be. Even when just comparing the first 45 minutes of this movie to what comes after, he seems like a different character. Before the switch, like everyone else, his character was mostly depressed and lifeless, but he turns into someone somewhat different when he decides to take the risks necessary for things to improve.
Once again, I understand what they were trying to do with the build-up, but going in that direction so hard was problematic for me. What follows that stuff is truly intriguing and worth exploring. I started to actually want to see just how everything would unfold. Most of what we get here is captivating, but I just wish they would have gotten to this point sooner than they did. Doing so would have saved time and the film’s overall quality.
There’s so much more they could have tried to delve into with all of the ideas they had and the way they use time travel. Aside from removing the potential of boring your audience, the opportunity to dig deeper into what they created here is another reason why it would have benefited from moving things along quicker. When looking at it from a financial perspective, I guess taking the suggested route would have been more expensive. And seeing that this is a small budget film, that could have been difficult.
Anyway, I liked what was presented in Synchronic after the slow build that we have to sit through. If you fight your urge to give up on it, there’s a strong possibility that you will too. Sure, it becomes a bit predictable as we approach the film’s climax, but it almost didn’t matter by the time we got there. Give it a chance whenever you can. It ends up being worth it.
Screenwriter: Justin Benson
Film Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: October 23, 2020 (Drive-in, Theaters, and VOD)
Distributor: Well GO USA
- Score - 6.5/106.5/10