‘Synchronicity’ Gives Us the Future of Sci-Fi Noir

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unnamedFueled by amphetamines and black coffee, Jim Beale (Chad McKnigh) knows he is at about to uncover the secrets to time travel. No, this isn’t a metaphor for an impending blackout, but rather a rush towards proof that solid matter can travel through time. Though initial tests leave Jim’s chief investor, mogul Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), unimpressed, Jim discovers that something was left behind from the initial experiment. When all has cleared, a genetically modified Dahlia sits at the center of the testing site. Jim and his team review the tape and discover the figure of a human being leaving the Dahlia before disappearing. Jim flees the lab, only to find the drop dead gorgeous Abby (Brianne Davis) gracefully smoking a cigarette. She seems confused to see him, as he is surprised to see her outside his lab. Within moments, she’s playing along with Jim and Meisner at a restaurant and working Klaus and his wife into signing over materials and funds to Jim to be the “next Tesla.”

Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis and Michael Ironside

Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis and Michael Ironside

It isn’t long before we discover that Abby is not only Klaus’ mistress, but also possesses the same Dahlia found in the experiment. Though Jim knows she has to be dangerous, he still pursues Abby, all while trying to uncover the mystery of the Dahlia. When he determines that Abby must be working for Klaus, he invites them both to the lab and then throws himself into the wormhole he has created. This is when it gets crazy. Reemerging, Jim discovers that he has gone back 5 days in time. Initially excited by his discovery, he begins to find himself becoming violently ill at odd intervals, usually when approaching his non-time-traveled self. He discovers great jealousy over his other form getting all the action with Abby and it isn’t long before he’s turning to his lab assistants, Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matty (Scotty Poythress) for help. Sure Jim time traveled, but did he time travel within the same universe?

Imagine if Blade Runner and Dark City had a baby with Humphrey Bogart. Turn the acting down just a bit, but include some brilliantly witty lines and keep the protagonist with a chiseled jaw. Make sure the jaw isn’t perfect, but close. Give our femme fatale a bit of futuristic glamor, but still make sure she’s gorgeous with smeared mascara trails and the barest remnants of pajamas.  Like any good Sci-Fi Noir, Synchronicity makes sure to keep the people and the storyline intense. The action is compelling and ping-pongs the viewer around just enough to keep the story flowing.  Synchronicity is a dark film, careful to create a future where night and shadows seems to be not just a setting, but another character. You want noir? You’ve got noir. The hotels and dive bars seem to be well-scouted locations, but they fit the theme perfectly.

Working The Problem

AJ Bowen being gorgeous and rugged

The acting is not what you’re paying for in watching Synchronicity. Many of the lines could have been delivered with more believability and power, but it is the language in the lines that really gets you.  At one point Abby asks Meisner’s wife questions regarding electricity. After correcting her beliefs about Edison, Abby cheerfully points out that Jim is the next Tesla and that “Edison was a dick.” One of my other favorite sequences features the lab assistant, Matty, reciting “The Pi Song” to keep himself calm. There’s also the brilliant sequence in which Jim says to Abby:

“There are certain tribes in the Amazon where women use shamanistic rituals to control their men by driving them to insanity. Are you a shaman?”

Brianne Davis looks like Jennifer Lawrence, but lacks her delivery. However, her posturing is believable and convincing. Chad McKnight pulls off most of his lines, but occasionally feels rushed through sequences that seem to have needed more time. Many of the sequences will strike the humor of a modern audience. The most believable performers are AJ Bowen and Scott Poythress, both of which I found deeply charming. AJ Bowen is every good guy you want to date and the best friend you want backing you up if you’re dying from “space cancer.” Scott Poythress is the guy you want working on your experiments, even if you’ve given up.

Scott

Scott Poythress working to solve the mysteries of time and space

I deeply enjoyed the movie and found myself falling into the music of Ben Lovett. His score fell back into that same feeling of watching Blade Runner the first time, but as if you were watching Blade Runner on mute with The Cure and NIN’s instrumental work in the background.
Truth be told, I wish there were more films like Synchronicity on the horizon. The film making and settings are well-crafted and creative, the score beautiful and the script a solid balance of drama mixed with just enough humor. I’d love to see more from Jacob Gentry and Alex Orr.  

Synchronicity is in limited released January 22, 2016.

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