Synchronic (2020) – Film Review

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Writer-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead follow up The Endless with another mind-bending slice of science fiction in Synchronic.

Two New Orleans paramedics’ lives are ripped apart after they encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.

After a wild opening sequence that shows the effects of the drug on a couple of unsuspecting users, the film takes too long in getting to the heart of the action. So long in fact that you feel like someone who has taken a hit and an hour in is wondering if you have been sold sweetener as nothing is happening.

The problem is one of narrative and structure. The audience already know what the drug does and it is well into the second act before the main character discovers that Synchronic is transporting the user temporarily back in time. Effectively we are waiting for Steve to catch up. Whereas if the experience of the users had been kept more vague and unseen, it would not have robbed the film of the tension of when Steve tries it for the first time.

To their credit however, Benson and Moorhead have a visual style full of creativity and flair that will serve them well on Marvel’s Moon Knight. The sequences on Synchronic are immersive and suitably hallucinatory.

Anthony Mackie is Marty McFly and Doc Brown all rolled into one. He is both the protoganist and his own teacher. Screenwriter Benson has devised the who, what, why, where and when relating to the mechanics of the drug. Through trial and error, Mackie is able to help his tortured colleague, played by Jamie Dornan, whose daughter disappeared after taking it herself. This helps to propel the film forward as it evolves from a missing person thriller into a time travel adventure.

It is a hell of a trip but ultimately Synchronic is a cinematic drug that doesn’t completely work.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Signature Entertainment presents Synchronic Home Premiere on Digital Platforms 29th January

Director: Justin Benson & Aaron Whitehouse
Stars: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton, Ally Ioannides
Runtime: 102 minutes
Country: USA

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