Synchronic (2020) is special, but it doesn’t succeed in achieving all the objectives it aims for. The film is a science fiction oeuvre which tries to be cerebral at some points. Although the original idea is interesting, it only accomplishes talking about some serious matters superficially. Several spoilers ahead.
Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are two haggard paramedics from New Orleans. They are dealing with more and more strange deaths cases caused by a new designer drug. Apart from that, they start to experience some real-life problems. On the one hand, Steve discovers that he has cancer. On the other hand, Dennis has some serious family problems. All these complicated situations will test their friendship.
At the beginning, you don’t know what point the movie is trying to make. It seems that the whole story is developed around this new drug, which is extremely addictive and dangerous. Moreover, it is a legal drug derived from the famous DMT, which makes it more interesting because it is an actual problem in our society. But then, out of the blue, you discover that the plot is about time travelling. Don’t misunderstand me, this plot twist is interesting, and I was captivated by it. Nevertheless, both ideas are not perfectly connected. As the film's seriousness increases, the storytelling also becomes more schematic.
With a subtle neo-noir aesthetic, filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead try to create a whole new futuristic universe. At some point they lose their way as they attempt to depict time travelling. The failure is that they don’t really delve into questions about time travel. The movie turns out to be a fast presentation of different scenarios where Steve is constantly going. Each one of them depict a very well-known part of American history; apart from that, they don’t tell us anything new.
Maybe, regarding inclusion, some of these places are interesting. For example, on one occasion, the main character — who is Black — travels to a racist village. Here some racial problems are fairly represented such as unjustified racial hatred or violence against Black people. Nevertheless, it is something stereotypical and, again, it doesn’t go deeper into this social matter. The same happens with all the spacetime travels, and as a result, I seldom empathize with the character nor the situation.
Overall, Synchronic is not a bad movie. Its only problem is that it is too ambitious. By trying to tell a complex story, directors Benson and Moorhead are superficial; that is the only flaw. If only they had decelerated the storytelling pace a little bit, they would have succeeded in telling a brilliant story.