‘Synchronic’ uses typical sci-fi trope and manages to make it original

“Synchronic” brings hope for a genre that uses recycled tropes and unintentionally reminds us to stay away from drugs.

By Dominique Hodge

The sci-fi genre can be genuinely entertaining with its out of the box concepts like time travel or other dimensions that inspire audiences to think about the possibilities science can bring. Yet, sci-fi films can become predictable and unoriginal. How many space creature movies can you make without them being exact replicas? “Synchronic” plays into the stereotype only to shock audiences with a masterful ending.

The purpose of sci-fi is to excite audiences and make people think about the possibilities of science. Space travel, spectacular creatures and other dimensions are common topics and elements used to show this. Accuracy is a give or take, but the joy and excitement give these films purpose.

“Synchronic” is a sci-fi film that follows two New Orleans paramedics and the series of mysterious deaths and injuries following the consumption of the designer drug “synchronic.”

Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan), the two paramedics, are mutually disturbed to find these gruesome scenes in such a short time. The only similarity across the board Steve discovers is a synchronic wrapper. Quickly chalking it off as a bad drug trip, Steve buys every pill in the city in hopes for these incidents to stop.

Following the disappearance of Dennis’s daughter, Steve realizes the true unintended effect of the drug: it challenges reality and time itself. This discovery leads Steve to question whether the drug is the true culprit behind Dennis’s daughter’s disappearance. With the last synchronic pills in existence, Steve begins digging.

This jumpstarts the film’s plot and takes us on a wild ride through the most recycled concept in sci-fi: time-travel. “Synchronic” uses this to its advantage by seemingly abiding by the formula in the beginning before switching it up completely. After all, a pill being a tool for time travel is a creative and exceptional plot device.

Steve’s character is one of the best elements of the film. His strength and intelligence holds the audience in bizarre and difficult moments. But, his humor always soothes the tension when the mind bending becomes too much. The performance by Mackie is commendable and just another thing to enjoy about this movie.

“Synchronic” truly messes with the mind through the spectacular visuals and bizarre places it takes us. Whether it be to a swamp with a looming conquistador or a prehistoric blizzard, the effect and execution is marvelous. The graphics, breaks in time and recurring pictures of plot pieces give off the classic sci-fi feel. The audience gets to truly experience the story closely because of the attention to detail.

Another method “Synchronic” employs to capture attention is the manipulation of time. Throughout the film, there are scenes that move a single hair slower or faster to make the atmosphere seem unsteady. The flow of movements demonstrate this as well with the way they are set up to flow in time with one another.

The artistry and attention to detail like the after effects of the blizzard scene, as well as the plot, transcend “Synchronic” above many other sci-fi films. The film is genuinely good in every aspect, which is a rarity when it comes to the genre. The film begins on a rocky start, with visuals that seem to be too much and can be off putting. But, the film does deliver besides that.

As far as the ending goes, it ties the story firmly and completely. There is no graceless cliffhanger or unsatisfying conclusion that has no loyalty to the story. The buildup to the ultimate conclusion left no true standard or expectation. The story could have ended in an abundance of ways; yet the ending delivered was graceful and a true close.

“Synchronic” is a quality example of what sci-fi has to offer. The visuals, the plot and the strong world building sets it apart from so many sci-fi movies, especially those regarding time travel. This film genuinely excited me about time travel again considering how many films like this have let me down.

“Synchronic” demonstrates that what sci-fi really needs is to erase the formulas and stick to the world of building and creativity.

Edited by Chloe Konrad | ckonrad@themaneater.com

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