The colors, the shadows pierced by unearthly shafts of light, the venal billionaire villain and the Shades of Vangelis score tell us this about “Synchronicity” before we have one hint about what it’s about.
This is a “Blade Runner” homage, a tribute to the over-designed underlit glories of early Ridley Scott films.
Screenwriter/director Jacob Gentry (“The Signal”) has crafted a mood-over-all time travel thriller with a paranoid inventor, a femme fatale and assorted “versions” of these characters manipulated by the “topological anomaly” that scientist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) has discovered and is exploiting.
In the not-that-distant future, Beale and his team have created a “reversible wormhole in the fabric of the space-time continuum.”
Even if you know almost nobody ever uses that last phrase outside of science fiction movies, and you don’t understand, you’ve got to figure Jim is onto something.
That’s the thinking of his financier, played by Michael Ironside, one of the cinema’s greatest heavies. Jim’s got to outsmart the billionaire to keep control of this epoch-shaking invention. But who can he trust to help him?
“Synchronicity” is about paranoia and betrayals, real and imagined. And it’s about nerd lust, the kind of temptation that presents itself in the person of Abby (Brianne Davis). When she asks “Where did YOU just come from?” she might better be asking “When did you just come from?” Her curiosity is piqued.
Something about time travel makes it oh-so-friendly to manage in a micro-budget movie.
Think of the cut-rate thrillers, from “Primer” to the Spanish “Time Crimes,” to say nothing of the scads of budget-conscious TV episodes and entire series that have managed something interesting in the genre without “Back to the Future” bucks.
That’s the stand-out trait of “Synchronicity,” the austere future cityscapes, the gloomy nights, the realistic-looking gear and “scientific method” approach to testing this new procedure/gadget on a planet, and then people.
Characters may bicker about the fates of Tesla and Edison — one, rich and famous, the other too late to get credit for his genius. Love and trust are given and withdrawn, depending on the relative level of paranoia. And characters are constantly running the risk of running into earlier — or later — versions of themselves, trying to tidy all this up.
“If I’m doing my math correctly, there’s a good chance I’m on my way here right now.”
McKnight suggests barely enough of a science nerd to be believable. Davis (“True Blood”) has a sexy mystery about her that suits the character’s uncertain standing. Is she guileless, or scheming? Abby’s attraction to Jim never feels real, so that’s given away too easily.
It all comes back to that look, the feel, Gentry was going for. That’s not enough, as the story gets lost in the murk and the relationships are never as clear as they should be simply because of the lack of light.
Think of the shocks of “Primer,” the intricate puzzle of “Los cronocrimenes (Time Crimes”). No matter how gorgeous “Synchronicity” looks, it can’t keep you from feeling this was an opportunity missed.
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references
Running time: 1:41