There is one little thing you should know about the 2019 Synchronic.
It’s not that it’s a low-budget sci-fi movie with an intriguing premise. It’s not like Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan are best friends. It’s not like the directors have been hired to direct a few episodes of Marvel’s latest major Disney Plus show.
Synchronic will really annoy you with its plot holes and inconsistencies and nonsensical time travel mechanics spinning around in your head until a great counter-argument emerges from the blur and convinces you that everything makes sense after all.
Surprisingly, this is a recommendation to watch Synchronic. A frustrating, divisive, dark indie gem with flashes of brilliance. It’s another taste of the exciting talent of directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (check out 2017’s The Endless for a twisted taste of horror). Just lean against the fury that Synchronic inspires, and in the end, you will have a rewarding experience.
Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie star as Dennis and Steve.
Well, go to the US
Mackie and Dornan play Steve and Dennis, two remarkably laid-back paramedics who work in New Orleans. They are called upon to treat a series of people spouting incoherent stories after taking a Synchronic drug.
Steve and Dennis investigate the drug’s origins and the impossible possibilities of time travel while also coping with their crumbling personal lives. Steve is a jaded ladies’ man, and Dennis is trapped in a dysfunctional marriage.
The discovery. The best parts of Synchronic relate to the actual sci-fi element itself—tSteve and Dennis walk down a dark road in the middle of the night, talking about their normal lives, until they enter a house and discover a shocking scene from a horror movie, where someone has been stabbed, and a medieval sword inexplicably protrudes from a wall.
Thanks to a few conspiracies, Steve eventually takes the drug himself. This is where Synchronic gets excited in an impressively visceral way.
Well, go to the US
Starting with its clear grounding point, the film sends Steve and us into the terrifying unknown. The threat of sudden and violent death hangs above all else because, in this time travel story, Steve is a black man, and going back to certain places brings a whole different layer of danger.
The mechanics of how the time-travel drug works are teased convincingly as Steve conducts experiments. A record player analogy is worth the appearance of one character alone. At one point, directors Benson and Moorhead shake things up by giving us Steve’s first-person perspective, putting us directly at the wheel to experience what rises from the tense and unpredictable darkness of the next location.
Other aspects of the drug disappear, including a small piece to track who is behind the creation. Plus, while it’s effective in some ways, the general sense of realism can reveal how ridiculous the drug’s capabilities are.
The story is far from perfect; it ties into the thinly developed emotional core involving Steve, Dennis, and Dennis’ daughter Brianna. (A horrible scene with Steve’s dog is an example of bad character decisions or a deliberate jerk on our emotional feelings.)
Still, clever and clever directing and Steve’s dry sense of humor, delivered with Mackie’s deadpan swagger, shine above the distinctly rougher edges of Synchronic. The bittersweet ending of Synchronic is frustrating but doesn’t lessen the impact of the bigger parts. Hopefully, the film makes you think about Benson and Moorhead’s other films, four of which are part of a connected universe (some connections are stronger than others).
It promises action on a much bigger budget, starring Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector, a former US Marine turned superhero, Moon Knight. The directors’ talent will be showcased to a wider audience as Moon Knight comes to Disney Plus every week. Benson and Moorhead have gotten their hands on two of the six episodes. I can’t wait to see how they go when they get unleashed with all that a large-scale production offers.
Synchronic is now streaming on Netflix. You need maximum attention when watching movies to absorb subtle details that explain what is happening. It can be slow, with occasional dodgy dialogue and an ending that spirals out of control. It would help if ynd yet it is still up to the interpretation whether everything makes sense. Take the plunge? Decide for yourself.
Where can I watch Synchronic in my country?
If you’re in Australia, Synchronic will stream on Netflix and Binge.
In the UK, France, Germany, and Italy, you have to pay a small fee to rent or buy the movie from Amazon Video, Apple’s TV app (also known as iTunes), Google Play, YouTube Movies, and other streaming services.
In Spain, Synchronic streams on Prime Video.