Time Travel Thursdays: Synchronicity
Time travel tropes6
Plot and performances5
Matthew Turner | On 28, Feb 2019
Director: Jacob Gentry
Cast: Chad McKnight, Brianne Davis, AJ Bowen, Claire Bronson, Wade Tilton, Scott Poythress, Michael Ironside
Watch Synchronicity online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Wondering how to fill the time travel gap now that Travelers and Timeless have been cancelled? Then transport yourself no further than Time Travel Thursdays, our column devoted to time travel movies on Netflix. It’s on Thursdays.
“Time travel made that guy a real asshole.” That’s the best line from Synchronicity, a micro-budget, skilfully plotted, straight to streaming sci-fi flick from writer-director Jacob Gentry. Sadly, the rest of the film can’t quite live up to either the attitude or the humour of that line, but it’s inventive, consistently engaging and knows how to deploy its time travel tropes.
The story begins with physicist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight in the opening credits, Chadrian McKnight in the closing credits) and his nerdy assistants, Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matty (Scott Poythress), on the verge of a major breakthrough with their self-funded project to “open a traversable wormhole in the space-time continuum”. When something goes wrong, Jim meets Abby (Brianne Davis), a mysterious woman who may or may not have emerged from the wormhole he created. Jim falls for Abby, but soon suspects she’s working for venture-capitalist Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), who has his own designs on the project.
In desperation, Jim enters the wormhole himself and promptly finds himself back at the beginning of the project, where he persuades Chuck and Matty that the machine works, but then has to avoid running into his past self. At the same time, he falls in love with Abby and uses his knowledge of the past to try and lure her away from Meisner’s takeover scheme.
Synchronicity takes quite a gamble in its first act, in that it presents several scenes that feel a little disjointed, as if something’s missing but you can’t quite put your finger on what that thing might be. However, those scenes click into place once Jim goes through the wormhole, because they’re replayed from a different perspective, with pleasing results.
The script is tightly constructed and what it lacks in humour, it makes up for with ideas and some smart takes on otherwise familiar clichés – for example, there’s a moment where Jim Prime (as Chuck calls him) becomes jealous of his past self and starts obsessively watching Past Jim and Abby together from a neighbouring building, and you can’t help wishing the film had ventured down that weird avenue a bit further.
McKnight (who looks a lot like a cut-price Jim Caveziel) makes a decent enough lead, but there’s no real spark between him and Davis, which is disappointing, because the film ultimately puts too much emphasis on an emotional connection that isn’t really there. Fortunately, things are lifted by an intriguingly strange performance from Scott Poythress as Matty (to the point where you wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be a robot), while Ironside bestows a touch of class on the film, even if he only puts in the bare minimum of effort.
Gentry makes the most of his obviously limited budget, through a combination of low lighting, a small handful of sets and some smart location choices, using offbeat camera angles to bring a futuristic quality to modern architecture. On top of that, there’s a terrific synth score from Ben Lovett that deliberately evokes Blade Runner – a film that, judging by the general aesthetic, Gentry wants his audience to know he has seen many, many times.
While not quite on the level of low budget genre classics such as Primer or Timecrimes, Synchronicity remains an engaging time travel movie that serves up some enjoyable twists and turns.
Synchronicity is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.