Two New Orleans paramedics’ lives are ripped apart after they encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.
‘Synchronic’ is a smart and inventive science fiction movie that delivers well on an intriguing premise. The setting is a dark and moody New Orleans where paramedics Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) work late shifts, working in tandem with the police when they start to encounter some strange incidents. These incidents all link back to a new designer drug (the ‘Synchronic’ of the title), which is leaving people in various states from dead to permanently altered. When Dennis’s daughter Brianna (Ally Ioannides) disappears after taking the drug, Steve, himself having just received life changing news, takes it upon himself to find out the truth of what is going on.
It becomes clear that those who take the drug are temporarily sent back in time, with anything that happens to them in the past affecting them in the future – the drug alters time, but not always in ways that could be easily explained. One of the things I loved about ‘Synchronic’ is that it features numerous scenes of Steve trying to figure out the rules that govern how the drug works, with each detour into the past shedding more light on what has happened to Brianna. Science fiction that dabbles in the logistics of the improbable can be brilliant and it provides possibly the closest representation of how a ‘real’ person would react in this situation – see Shane Carruth’s ‘Primer’ for a standout of this subgenre. The experiments Steve conducts with the drugs do have a dark side and it leads to one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve seen in a fictional film in a long time, and I’m still a little bit broken by it.
Anthony Mackie is very good in the central role as a man forced to confront his mortality, and embrace the freedom that gives him. The clever writing from regular collaborators Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead kept me guessing and I felt the way the past and present blended through the drug use was well depicted, sometimes frightening and on occasion, quite profound. ‘Synchronic’ is a terrific little science fiction movie with a great premise and even better delivery, and it hopefully won’t get lost in the mix with cinemas mostly closed at the moment.
Directed By: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Ally Ioannides, Katie Aselton, Bill Oberst Jr., Natasha Tina Liu, Martin Bats Bradford and Adam J. Yeend