Synchronic (2019): Time Travel in New Borleans

“Synchronic” is directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the same duo responsible for bringing us “The Endless.” This film stars Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey, Once Upon a Time) and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as two New Orleans paramedics whose lives change once they encounter a series of deaths linked to a drug by the name of Synchronic.

I am one of those people who often judges whether or not they want to see a movie based on the trailer. Unfortunately, given how I consider Scene Before an outlet of informative entertainment for my viewers, I had to make some sacrifices. Movies like “I Feel Pretty” and “Life of the Party” had terrible marketing, but because I am a team player, I saw both anyway. The results of both experiences were not very positive. Every now and then I’ll get something like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which kind of looked a cliché corporate money grab with no inspiration attached. Turns out I was wrong and I now want to see the sequel! Similar to that, “Over the Moon,” which one trailer in particular makes it look like a been there done that children’s adventure, ended up being my favorite movie this year.

In the case of “Synchronic,” I knew very little about this film before going into it. The earliest memory I have about the movie is this statement shared on social media.

This is a perfect statement. I love the theatrical experience, but this is a great way to encourage people to stay safe, without shaming those who choose to see the movie early. Now, let me just say, that if I didn’t have a full-line commitment to the movie theater or if I were not doing Scene Before, there may be a chance that I decide to put “Synchronic” on my waitlist of movies to watch due to the pandemic, I have not heard much in regards it, or what it is about. Then again, it is also nice to go into a movie blind. Plus, this is a sci fi film, and sci fi is by far my favorite genre, so I would probably have been willing to shell out money for this thing no matter how you slice it.

Having seen “Synchronic,” I walked out of it feeling to similar to how I felt walking out of “Ad Astra.” The film, despite its best intentions to impress me, could not feel more dull! Both films fit into the realm of high-concept sci fi, but unlike the ambitions this movie reaches for, its entertainment value feels relatively low. Looking back at “Ad Astra,” the only things I recall immensely enjoying are the cinematography and one particular chase scene. Other than that, the movie is pretty much a forgettable snoozefest. It looks pretty though! Honestly, I’d rather watch “Ad Astra” at this point compared to “Synchronic,” which based on what I have to say, won’t say much. “Synchronic” is a movie that I really wanted to like, because I usually happen to be fascinated by anything sci-fi. Unfortunately, I walked out of this movie immediately forgetting about it.

If you want me to be straight up, I will address the elephant in the room. This movie, from the get go, had some pretty poor pacing. I will admit, I watched this movie shortly after finding out the results of a controversial election in the United States, so I was bound to be distracted at one point or another, but if this movie cannot get me to lock eyes onto it for a decent amount of time, that’s a problem. I almost never cared about any of the characters, even though I do recognize that the ensemble did a fairly decent job with their roles.

At the same time however, despite me not having much of a damn to give about any characters in this movie, it is a well put together production. At times, this movie reminded me of a movie I did like, “Annihilation,” another sci fi film that feels relatively high-brow. While it is not my favorite film of all time, this movie has a similar sounding score, which is not always boisterous (except in the final act when it is EPIC), but it is easy on the ears from time to time. “Synchronic” at times also has a weird sounding score you’ll want to put on when you drop some acid or something. That’s what I got out of it at the very least.

However, I have to say, there is only one thing that I genuinely took from “Synchronic” as a moment to remember and that is where we see our lead character played by Anthony Mackie messing around with the drug and seeing what happens when he takes it. What does he do? Where does he go? What spot does he have to be in to go to a certain place? I do not want to reveal too much, but one of the things I really like about this movie is how it executes a way of unleashing certain consequences. I won’t say much, but it sort of adds to the learning experience of testing the drug if you will.

I will say though, this movie is written by Justin Benson, who co-directed the film with Aaron Moorhead. One of these two have to be a massive “Back to the Future” fan because this movie not only has time travel, but also a scene where they have an ad playing in a bar promoting “Back to the Future,” and one character even has a dog named Hawking, most likely after Stephen Hawking! In “Back to the Future,” you may remember Doc had a dog named Einstein, after Albert Einstein. In fact, I do not think this is coincidental at all, because both dogs almost look the same! Just watch both movies and tell me they don’t!

This movie did one thing right, even if it was not what it ultimately set out to do. It made me want to watch a much better time travel movie. Congratulations, “Synchronic!” You made me want to travel back to 1985! Good job! In reality, I do have respect for both filmmakers helming this project, even if I am not entirely familiar with their work, because I always enjoy getting a high-concept film like this. I just wish the end result was better.

This movie had a pretty cool ending. Unfortunately though, I had to suffer through a massively boring 90 minutes to get there. I do not think I’ll ever watch this film again unless I need something to fall asleep to, or if it is on cable and I need something in the background. At the same time, I do have faith in Benson and Moorhead, and maybe due to a hectic week, I was in a weird mood. Nevertheless, I stand by my points.

In the end, “Synchronic” is simply one of those movies that looks like it could be masterful, in fact there were certain scenes that I enjoyed watching mainly from a presentation view, but this movie excels more with style than it does substance. There is something there substance-wise, but it just did not sit with me. I imagine this film will have an audience over the years, and who knows? Maybe this is another “Empire Strikes Back,” where a good number of people saw it originally, didn’t like it, but as it got a following and as years went by, it became synonymous with the “Star Wars” name. “Synchronic” could be one of those movies that I could watch again a year from now with a different perspective. And while that excites me, I have to be honest. To be quite honest, this had the pace of the 2020 election. I’m going to give “Synchronic” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This week I will be seeing the all new film “Freaky” starring Kathryn Newton (Supernatural, Blockers) and Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Internship) in this horror spin on “Freaky Friday.” I am quite excited, not only because we are getting more new movies in a year where movies have barely even come out, but this one looks pretty sick. It looks scary, hilarious, and fun. So I’m ready for a good time at the movies. Let’s do this! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Synchronic?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the best movie to fall asleep to? It can also be a good movie! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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