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