The often twisty path of time travel offers a route to discovery and science fiction delights in Synchronicity. The film, opening today, stars Chad McKnight as Jim Beale, a scientist on the verge of creating a stable wormhole though time. But this being a time travel story, he may have already created it and a shadowy corporation may have sent in a femme fatale to steal it from him.
The film recalls the future as glimpsed in classic science fiction movies like Blade Runner, with tremendous cityscapes, constant searchlights and film noir touches. But Synchronicty leans on those stylish visual cues more to create a romantic vision of an almost-future instead of the more oppressive elements of those high-contrast worlds. The effect is a setting not too dissimilar from today, but seductively reminiscent of those dark, yet fashionable sci-fi worlds.
In that setting, Beale learns not only about the relative success of his experiments, but the true nature of Abby, a seemingly kept woman, played by Brianna Davis, with a surprising understanding of time and Beale’s attempt to break its forward momentum. Davis is wonderful as a character who starts as a one-note likely femme fatale, but becomes increasingly complex as time travel allows her actions to be viewed from different angles. At her motives become clear, the viewer must ponder if she is actually the first person to break through time.
And breaking through time allows the discovery of what is really happening to unfold in novel ways. McKnight is our guide as Beale sees the three days of his life surrounding the wormhole experiment as both a participant and observer. In this regard, he carries the movie well. Brash, committed, jealous and charming, all of his traits as Beale get examined as he crosses the time barrier to see himself. As much as he learns about Abby, he also learns new things about a scientist he can now view from outside.
That journey of discovery is aided by Ben Lovett‘s phenomenal score. Recalling the synthesizer soundtracks of the 1980s, it is haunting and romantic despite the seemingly alienating sounds utilized in the orchestration. And though it recalls earlier film scores, it uses that familiarity to its advantage and adds to the appropriate sense of deja vu as the film loops around itself and we learn more about Beale, Abby and time travel.
Of course, the journey is not without its obstacles. Lurking throughout the film is Michael Ironside as Klaus Meisner, the CEO of a corporation controlling not only the single energy source that will allow Beale to open the wormhole, but also Abby’s first interactions with the scientist. Ironside brings his seemingly effortless grit and authority to the role. Though only in a handful of scenes, his presence looms large and he commands the moments in which he actually appears.
Beale is also aided by two lab assistants, played by AJ Bowen and Scott Poythress. Both seem to have a handle on the situation with Poythress’s Matty having a preternatural understanding of Beale’s predicament. Both bring a comic edge to the film’s sci-fi and noirish elements, providing a great layering as reality itself seems to unravel.
The film itself, however, never unravels with a firm understanding of its own timeline and how to play with it. Writer and director Jacob Gentry helms the film with confidence as the true nature of Beale’s experiment becomes evident. And though the film hops around its own plot to provide us with a better understanding of its characters, the viewer always has an emotional through-line.
Which is part of its magic. Despite it’s time travel trappings, the film provides a solid core for the viewer and, at some point, those science fiction leanings give way to a more intimate story. Like the best science fictions movies, Synchronicity unfolds into a multi-layered tale of the human experience, even in a seemingly impossible journey. Though it invokes the imagery of a dark, cold world, its heart leads to a satisfying place.