Science Fiction is a tricky beast. Much like it’s bedfellow, horror, the genre takes a beating with a certain amount of sub par movies and filmmakers who use it as a training ground of sorts. Once in a while, though, a movie comes along that showcases how truly wonderful, thought provoking and unique the genre can be. Writer/director Jacob Gentry has done just that with Synchronicity. Imagine a smokey, shadow filled noir film met an 80’s sci-fi film and they had a baby. Throw in the added complexity of time travel and you’ve got yourself a visual, mind bending treat.
Physicist Jim Beale has created a reversible wormhole in the fabric of the space/time continuum and while I have no idea what this means, I’m instantly hooked by the look and feel of the film. Our suspiciously handsome physicist in question is played by Chad McKnight (The Signal) who does a fine job of playing an over eager creator who wants his work funded, but doesn’t want to give up his ownership of it, either. As is laid out early on in the film, Beale is a modern day Tesla who wants to create and share something that could benefit all of mankind, but Klaus Meisner is the Edison who wants to own this something and charge people to use it. With a name like Klaus Meisner, it’s really no surprise that he’s kind of a dick and the fact that Michael Ironside (Scanners, Total Recall) is the one bringing him to life, just makes him that much more of a magnificent bastard. Add in two trusty lab assistants and the token femme fatale and you’re ready to settle in for a Timecrimes style mental chess game.
As Jim gets involved with a woman named Abbey (Brianne Davis) who is, conveniently, located outside of his lab the same night that he puts on a demonstration for Meisner, everything that Jim thinks he knows begins to unravel. Abbey is beautiful, intriguing and intelligent and that can only mean one thing in a noir film: she may not be worth all of the trouble that she causes. She sure looks good in that noir film lighting, though. Almost no place is safe from shadows caused by slowly oscillating fans or partially open blinds in this futuristic film. Futuristic by way of what a filmmaker in the 80’s imagined the future to be, which strangely, isn’t that far off from today or the very near future. Outside of the parallel universes, time lines and multiple Jim Beale’s running around, the throwback/future aesthetic of the film is a mind fuck all in itself and it’s fantastic. The score in the film is equally nostalgic and modern at the same time. Though I’m loathe to bring it up, Synchronicity has nailed this confounding feel the same way that It Follows does. Are we watching a movie that escaped an 80’s time capsule or are we watching something that was sent to us from the future? Surely, it can’t be either because it feels so very current. Or for the hardcore sci-fi crowd, it’s the same feel that Beyond the Black Rainbow managed to create:a modern feeling, futuristic film that, visually, looks dated and timeless all at once.
Jacob Gentry, AJ Bowen, Scott Poythress and Chad McKnight have been working together for many years now, with their most notable project to date being The Signal, and the easiness of their shared vision is palpable. From the comedic banter of Chuck (Bowen) and Matty (Poythress) to their willingness to aide Jim in his crazy, time travelling, worm hole exploring madness, you can feel that this movie was made with a strong team and this is what allows for you to overlook some of the film’s flaws. As with any time travel story, there are some questionable narratives, but I find it best to just sit back and enjoy the ride. As Jim uncovers more truths in each different trip that he takes through time, you become more engaged in his relationship with Abbey and confounded as to whether or not you should be rooting for them.
Playing with nonlinear story lines and time travel is always a risky move, but Synchronicity succeeds where a lot of other films of this type fail. In fact, the movie benefits from repeated viewings which I’m sure a lot of people are going to crave after experiencing this jewel box of a film.