Pasatiempo - - ON THE COVER -

SYN­CHRONIC­ITY, sci­ence fic­tion, rated R, Jean Cocteau Cinema, 3 chiles

Physi­cist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) is on the brink of a sci­en­tific break­through: the dis­cov­ery of a means of travel via worm­holes through the space-time con­tin­uum. He and his team are strug­gling for fund­ing to com­plete the pro­ject, which re­quires a rare and ex­pen­sive sub­stance to power a time-travel de­vice. So far, Beale has been op­er­at­ing out of his own pri­vate lab, but then he ap­proaches Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), head of a large cor­po­ra­tion and, against his bet­ter judg­ment, signs a deal with this devil to get the pro­ject com­pleted. Evil cor­po­ra­tions are some­thing of a sta­ple in sci-fi, as with Wey­land-Yu­tani in the Alien fran­chise. Beale is sus­pi­cious of Meisner, a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who wants to ex­ploit Beale for his own ends. When the beau­ti­ful Abby (Bri­anne Davis) turns up to help, Beale is si­mul­ta­ne­ously in­trigued and mistrust­ful, be­liev­ing she’s Meisner’s plant who has been sent to spy on him and steal his se­crets. Beale goes back in time to dis­cover the truth, and to prove his time ma­chine works by match­ing a rare flower from the fu­ture with its ex­act du­pli­cate, if he can find it.

Syn­chronic­ity re­ally takes off when Beale tests his time-travel ma­chine on him­self. His health starts to de­te­ri­o­rate as he flips back and forth through time (ap­par­ently due to his ex­ist­ing in par­al­lel worlds si­mul­ta­ne­ously) as he races to turn events in his fa­vor, avoid his own dop­pel­ganger, and beat Meisner at his own game. The plot is a bit con­fus­ing if you’re not pay­ing at­ten­tion, and thus the film will stand up to re­peat view­ings. Its sense of time travel and its ef­fects are (a` la Doc­tor Who) more “wib­bly-wob­bly, timey-wimey” than straight­for­ward and lin­ear. In this in­stance, open­ing up a worm­hole is equiv­a­lent to open­ing a can of worms.

Fans of the genre will ap­pre­ci­ate this fu­tur­is­tic noir, which is solidly in the tra­di­tion of films like Blade Run­ner and the un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated Gat­taca.

Syn­chronic­ity is well made for a low-bud­get thriller, and it earns what crit­i­cal praise it’s been gar­ner­ing not for its orig­i­nal­ity but for its taut, com­pelling script and a vis­ual style that’s a throw­back to some of the bet­ter sci-fi made in the 1970s and ’80s. It’s full of shad­ows, beams of light pierc­ing smoky in­te­ri­ors, and ev­ery­thing is awash in cool blues and greens. Writer and di­rec­tor Ja­cob Gen­try doesn’t en­vi­sion the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture as so very dif­fer­ent, tech­no­log­i­cally, from our own era. — Michael Abatemarco

In two places at once: Chad McKnight

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