From the creators of 'The Signal' (Sundance 2007) comes Synchronicity, a mind-bending 'Sci-fi Noir' in the tradition of Blade Runner, Gattaca and Memento. Daring physicist Jim Beale has invented a machine that can fold space-time and ruthless corporate tycoon Klaus Meisner will stop at nothing to get it. When Jim uses the machine to tear open the fabric of the universe, a rare Dahlia appears from the future. But in order to keep the rights to his invention he must prove that it works by finding the flower's identical match in the present. Jim soon discovers that the Dahlia lies in the hands of the mysterious Abby, who seduces him into revealing his secrets. Convinced that she is in league with Klaus to take ownership of his life's work, Jim travels back in time to stop the conspiracy before it can happen. But once in the past, Jim uncovers a surprising truth about Abby, the machine, and his own uncertain future.
'Synchronicity' contains ideas that its screenplay, budget, and acting fail to live up to. It's continuously writing narrative checks that it's cinematic butt can't cash. As it dips into the paradoxes of time travel – or parallel universe travel, take your pick I suppose – I couldn't help but think, “Gee, you know what's a great time travel movie? 'Primer.' I wish I was watching 'Primer' right now.”
Jim (Chad McKnight) has created a nuclear powered wormhole generator that, if it works correctly, will open up a gateway to another time and place. Theoretically, the place on the other end of time bridge is almost identical. At least that's what we gather from the sparse exposition given. Not that there should be huge amounts of explanation given, but a little something to go on would be nice.
The whole project is overseen by a wealthy investor played by Michael Ironside. The relationship between Jim and angry billionaire Klaus should be a central component of the movie's drama. Instead Ironside and McKnight provide all the acting gravitas of a SyFy Channel monster movie.
Once the time hopping starts, the screenplay jumps back and forth piecing together events. This sort of structure is standard for time travel sci-fi. Since Jim jumps into the wormhole he enters a world where there are now two Jims. So we end up seeing each scene from two different points of view. When done well this structure can offer great insight. When done poorly it feels like we're just running through the motions.
Jim meets Abby (Brianne Davis), who appears to be Klaus' mistress/escort. Jim falls for Abby. Hard. And it's at that moment where the movie veers from semi-engaging time travel escapade into a love-knows-no-bounds story masquerading as sci-fi.
What begins as a slightly interesting, somewhat thought-provoking sci-fi exercise gets lost in its own tediousness. It doesn't help matters that the production values for 'Synchronicity' betray itself. Blurbs on the cover suggest comparisons to 'Blade Runner' and 'Dark City.' The only thing all three of these movies have in common is that they're all science fiction. 'Blade Runner' and 'Dark City' had the production values to realize their respective stories. 'Synchronicity' is mired in murky, chintzy sets, and worlds that seem curiously devoid of anyone other than the main actors.
Kudos to director Jacob Gentry for trying to establish a unique mood by bathing the visuals in rampant shadows and offering up unsettling synthesizer-infused musical scores. There's certainly an otherworldly feel to the movie. It feels like a sci-fi homage to 80s science fiction cinema. Its nostalgia factor is the single best thing going for it.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie falls flat. From the performances, to the well-tread screenplay, to the overcooked inter-dimensional love story, 'Synchronicity' never finds its footing. It's never able to establish itself amid its glaring faults. It doesn't have the power to dig itself out of the been-there-done-that trench it quickly digs from the opening scenes. Like I said, you're better off watching Shane Carruth's 'Primer.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This barebones release comes with one 25GB Blu-ray, a standard keepcase, and somewhat snazzy embossed slipcover.
Sadly, the 1080p presentation of 'Synchronicity' is desperately underwhelming. It suffers from just about all the ailments you might expect from a low-budget sci-fi movie. Banding? Check. Crushing shadows? Check. Dull blacks? Check. Aliasing? Yep.
Perhaps it's the 25GB disc, or perhaps it's simply because the source material wasn't very good to start with. Whatever the case, 'Synchronicity' does not look good on Blu-ray. Like mentioned above dark scenes are a chore to look at. They really are. Definition is hazy, and indistinct. Shadows constantly crush any detail that might make the picture the least bit interesting. The entire movie seems to have an unintentional haziness to it. Blacks are more like light grays. Never do they approach anything resembling “inky.”
Banding is visible often. The computer-generated city skylines (which look downright awful by the way), are ripe with banding. A shot of a building as the camera whooshes over it reveals a whole host of aliasing issues. Fine detail is almost non-existent. Even close-ups are slightly fuzzy. Mid-range shots? Forget about it. The best detail, and color, is found during the scenes where Jim has his headaches. The view switches to sort of a Terrence Malick-inspired visuals. Abstracts images of unknown origins. They're the best looking thing in the movie. Sadly, for the most part someone could've swappeded this Blu-ray for a DVD halfway through and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference visually.
This disc features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. It too is rather underwhelming, but not nearly as disastrous as its video counterpart. No, here we're faced more with an average sound mix. Something to be expected for a low-budget movie such as this.
Surround sound elements are there, but they aren't all that immersive. When Jim switches on the machine and the parts start whirring there's a fair amount of enveloping sound. However, most of the movie is focused up front in the front and center channels. The movie doesn't feature many elaborate panning movements, so directionality is pretty pedestrian. The center channel delivers the dialogue. Well-spoken lines sound clear, but whispered lines were a bit hard to hear at times.
LFE was plentiful whenever the synthesized soundtrack popped on or during Jim's headache periods. It's not overly impressive, but it makes its presence known. Again, I wasn't blown away with the 'Synchronicity' sound mix, it's average at best.
Audio Commentary – The commentary is provided by director Jacob Gentry. Full disclosure: I didn't get around to listening to it. I couldn't bring myself to watch the movie again. Apologies.
Interviews (HD, 14 min.) – There are standard promotional interviews included for McKnight (6 min.), Gentry (5 min.) and Davis (3 min.).
Music Video (HD, 3 min.) – Yes a music video for a song entitled “Time Travel” is included. The song is instrumental only, composed by Ben Lovett. It's simply a collage of images from the movie set to the techno-inspired song.
Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.
'Synchronicity' had promise, but that promise is betrayed by its budget, actors, and screenplay. There's a glimmer of some stimulating science fiction, but the story devolves into a phony love story that never seems to find its footing. Mostly because there's zero chemistry between the actors. Anyway, with its subpar video and only average audio, 'Synchronicity' is something to skip for now. If you're really curious, wait for it to be on cable in the afternoon on a Saturday. Watch it then.