It’s been over a month now since we saw this in the theater, and the delay has allowed more time to reflect on the film. It’s not very memorable, which is a telltale sign if a film was that good or not. Small parts of it I remember, but that’s about it. Nothing that really stuck with me. Bummer.
Maybe I need to take synchronic and go back in time?
It’s clear that Benson has an interest in quantum physics and the science of supernatural phenomena (Steve has a dog named Hawking, after all). The drug Synchronic, it turns out, opens up the pineal gland, the “third eye,” or what French philosopher Descartes called “the seat of the soul.” The trip flattens time, scrunching together what we typically understand to be linear, governed by a math of randomness and reason that Steve is determined to suss out.‘Synchronic’ review: A unique, sci-fi-tinged drama rooted in real-world stakes and emotion – Chicago Tribune
… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …
A Time Travel Drug is a good concept
I liked the concept. The time travel isn’t psychological, it actually works when you take the drug. Sometimes a good idea can drive a movie and this does, but it also can drive it too much to where there needs to be more than a catch. This fails in that part.
I found myself wanting to learn more about the drug. Sort of like a Rising Sun type movie where an investigation of the technology was a big part of the draw, rather than the time travel here. The biggest problem with time travel movies are often the sheer abundance of them and the complexity keeping the timelines straight. That isn’t really a problem here, that viewers quickly sour on too many time paradoxes. This same issue sort of wore me out with this year’s Tenet, although that is a much better movie than this. Here, though, they avoided this trope. Good for them.
No standout performances by anybody cast here, but it’s largely a one man solo act. I’m reminded of the pilot Twilight Zone episode in 1959 and the most excellent performance by Earl Holliman, but that is missing here.
We’ve seen too many movies where the dialogue is spoken with either too much or not enough intensity. It’s not horrible acting where it’s like the actors are reading off cue cards, but I felt the written dialogue could have been performed better in multiple instances by multiple actors.
Usually, I’d blame the screenplay, but here I’m more inclined to blame the actors.
Yeah, somewhat mediocre screenplay, too
As for the screenplay, it isn’t very good either. It’s the work of a tag team director team (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead), which makes me think they weren’t in total agreement about the script written solely by Benson.
I think there were parts of the story that worked. It opens very strong, falls flat quickly, then picks up interest toward the ending and ends fairly well. Pacing issues, which I’m attributing, perhaps erroneously, to director interference (I know, how do you interfere with your own script, but if you’re co-directing, it’s possible the other person disagrees). Maybe they needed a third person to look over the finished work and smooth out some of it. Just my opinion, others as always are welcome to disagree.
Badass Movie Box Art
Love the movie box art, which you can see above. It just oozes sci-fi futuristic film and the kind of film I’d like to see. Overall, I liked the idea of this film more than the execution. I would be interested in seeing more of the work by this artistic team, because there were traces here that show me they could make a truly outstanding film. This, for me, was not that film.
Reviews by Others
What do others think of Synchronic?
- AIPT: “…has a very interesting theme. Nostalgia for the past is something everyone experiences. The film is not so subtlety saying the past is not all that great. It is a fun take that is not just about explaining the seedy underbelly of days past. It is a straight up critique stating things were not as great as people say they were. Despite a underdeveloped story, it works.”
- Brett / Milam’s Musings: “I cared about Steve, Dennis and Brianna, but mostly Steve because he’s the primary character throughout the film. Oddly enough, for a film ripping Steve from his feet to transport him to different time periods, this film is grounded. That also helps to set it apart from other time travel films. It’s not only not romanticizing the past, but it’s grounded in the real world. In other words, it feels as if it could actually happen.”
- Cineccentric / Kevin Jones: “Imperfect but captivating and imaginative, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Synchronic continues the duo’s refreshing takes on science fiction”
- Danny O’s Movie Reviews: “…a movie that caught me completely by surprise, not only being one of the most original movies this year, but one of the best science fiction films in years. Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan give career best performances that hold together an out there take on a time travel story. Its time travel scenes, along with its cinematography and score, make it a visually arresting movie. “
- Geeks of Color / Andreas Cabrera: “Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson deliver an incredible follow up to The Endless, elevating their filmmaking prowess with even more ambitious storytelling and visually original concepts. From the camera movement to the editing, directors Benson and Moorhead, wanted to not only impress with their time travel plot but have fun with the genre.”
- I Love Splatter / Amie: “Another lovely entry form Benson and Moorhead — these guys always put out amazing work that leaves you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled.”
- Irish Film Critic / Eamon Tracy: “For a 90 minute feature, the script is packed with large themes and intriguing plot twists. Just when I thought I had the story figured out, more fascinating details were revealed. I would actually complain that I wish the film was longer. There wasn’t a moment where I was bored and there’s a great balance between overall humor and emotional scenes.”
- MMJ / MovieManJackson (Grade: B): “Large in scope but small and intimate at its core, Synchronic isn’t quite the sci-fi philosophical mind-bending high it could be. However, remove the time traveling elements, and it is a bit timely.”
- ruth / FlixChatter (3.5/5): “Ultimately, beyond the two-dimensionality of the characters and the believability of the plot, the film is a nice enough pit stop for science fiction/thriller fans. While it doesn’t succeed wholly in making us forget the trivialities of time travel science, Benson and Moorhead seem to say that Synchronic need not be synchronous with reality. After all, momentary escape should do.”
- Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: “If I talk about it at all, I’ll ruin the psychedelic trip, and I’ll ruin all the surprises. I guess I could talk about how well the story is told combined with some neat visuals that were done on a relatively small budget, but I just said it, and if I elaborated on it more, yet again, I would just ruin everything.”
- film-authority.com / tensecondsfromnow (2/5): “An intriguing premise is played out in a disappointingly conventional way, with endless exposition and rule-setting edging out the little human interest on offer.”
- C.H Newell (2.5/5): “There could’ve been compelling arguments made in this film about how a Black man can’t escape racism from one era of history to another, as Steve witnesses the casual racism of a cop, then runs into the KKK and later gets transported to a Confederate South. Synchronic never makes a lasting impression in this respect”
- David Ferguson / Movie Reviews From The Dark: “Time travel has long been a fun topic for movies, and the ideas behind this one are quite promising. The only downsides are that it too obviously guides us through what’s happening, and the trips back in time aren’t as structured or interesting as we would hope … although the idea of having the past be in the identical spot as the future is terrific.”
- rogerinorlando / Movie Nation (2.5/4): “…scores a few points for its novel choice of “explanation” for its form of time travel, and a lot more for casting the right time traveler to say “Man, f— ‘Back to the Future!’ The past was HELL.””
Linked above and wondering what would be cool to do next? Commenting once in awhile is always good (I like reader and other blogger interaction). If you have the trackback/pingback come to your site then just approve it because after people read your review then they can come here and follow links and read someone else’s review. What comes around goes around and sharing is the ultimate “thank you!” on the internet.
Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.
We have four more of these review compilations pending to be posted soon (Come Play, Let Him Go, True To The Game 2 and Freaky), leading up to — hopefully — movie theaters reopening in our area (Washington State). The governor has ordered movie theaters closed until at least December 14, so we’re hoping movie theater life will be greenlit again soon. In the meantime…
Happy movie watching!