Synchronic takes us on another spin through New Orleans with another mystery drug (like Project Power) hitting the streets. Only this time, instead of giving the user a random superpower, it has the potential to actually move the user through time. This depends on the age and calcification of the pineal gland and…
…oh, yeah, there’s a lot to ask questions about with Synchronic. Like why is it always dark? I don’t mean dark in the broody, noir, Blade Runnery scenery, or in the moody soundtrack, or the subject matter… Like its just dark, its always night, nobody knows how to use a light switch, etc… I guess artistic license is a thing.
But anyway, Steve (Anthony Mackie) is an EMT who just happens to have a brain tumor that has conveniently left his pineal gland somewhat pliable still. He and his partner, Dennis (Jamie Dorman) notice a pattern of weird deaths and injuries surrounding the use of this new drug, called Synchronic. They find half melted Spanish gold pieces, swords, antique doorknobs….
Then when Steve is out trying to buy out the supply of Synchronic from the local head shops, he runs across the guy who actually invented the stuff, quite on accident. He tells Steve all the juicy details about what it does, and then disappears forever.
Meanwhile, Dennis’ daughter Brianna has gone missing, and Steve realizes its because she took the drug and didn’t come back from her little time trip. He takes the pills he “confiscated” and begins experimenting in order to find out how to get her back.
Predictably, after visiting the ice age, the 1930’s, and a couple of other eras, they notice what looks like a message carved in a local park boulder. You can probably guess the rest.
So the first thing you’ll notice about Synchronic, the movie, is that like I said, its dark. Jeebus I don’t think there’s a “light” moment in this movie, save for a couple of bleakly cynical jokes here and there. But its dark, heavy, and just doesn’t ever let up. I hesitate to say that it might be taking itself a bit too seriously, even.
But its dark in plenty of other ways, too. From the troubles with Dennis and his wife, to Steve’s own demons as he comes to term with his tumor and his inevitable fate… There’s a moment where the two of them start philosophizing on the different ways we die… yeah, its not exactly a “fun” picture.
That’s not to say its not worth the watch. I found it to be decently interesting, despite its monotonous nature. The mystery as he documents each trip back in time… although why not take a camera with you?? I mean, seems like the obvious thing to do. I did find the premise or “setup” to be a little convoluted and convenient, but that’s just how it goes. One of those “perfect storm” moments where you need six things to happen all at the same time and it just does, no questions really asked.
Final rating? 3.5 / 5. I happen to like dark and brooding, even if its overdone a bit, like here. I also found the premise to be a smart take on time travel, and the frequent on-screen philosopher debates pushed all the right buttons for me.
Synchronic is out on Netflix right now. Go check it out.
Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/synchronic