Written and directed by Jacob Gentry, Synchronicity is an ambitious neo-noir time travel yarn that feels like a companion piece to Gentry’s first sci-fi feature, The Signal (which he co-directed with David Bruckner and Dan Bush). Both deal with fractured timelines to a degree, but it's his latter that proves Gentry’s keen ability to manipulate popular tropes all while creating a complex and intricate story. The film takes a bit of time to find its footing, but when it does, that’s when Synchronicity evolves into something rather special. On par with films like Timecrimes, Predestination or even Primer to a degree, Synchronicity once again proves that you don’t need a huge budget to create a compelling cinematic experience.
Synchronicity follows a beleaguered scientist by the name of Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) who, along with team members Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matty (Scott Poythress), have invented a device that can create a wormhole, ultimately giving them the ability to manipulate the space/time continuum once it's fully operational. Jim relies on the resources of his investor, Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), to fund his experiments, but his financier is none too plussed over Jim’s latest trial and threatens to cut funding unless Jim can provide some solid results.
Soon, the scientist crosses paths with a mysterious woman named Abby (Brianne Davis), who not only helps Jim deal with his employer but also ends up having a much larger impact on his life than he could have ever imagined. There’s a helluva lot more revealed throughout Synchronicity that should not be divulged here; suffice to say, as the film carries on and Gentry peels back the layers of his elaborate narrative (that he co-wrote with Alex Orr), there are some really interesting revelations about our hero, the bewildering Abby and how one Dahlia plant will forever change their lives and impact the future.
Science fiction is often a tough genre to nail, especially when you aren’t working with a multi-million dollar budget at your disposal. As a filmmaker, you have to pick your battles in regards to how to achieve that futuristic feel and Gentry does a masterful job of just that with Synchronicity. The aesthetic feels like a mash-up of Blade Runner meets Dark City, giving this futuristic world a nice sense of timelessness to it.
Something else I really dig is how Gentry’s use of technology doesn't feel akin to modern day mechanics, but is more a reflection of how filmmakers in the 1970s and ’80s envision where science would be at in the future. Those touches, along with the synth-infused score from Ben Lovett, all lend themselves to Gentry’s directorial approach rather nicely and enhance the modernistic world he establishes throughout Synchronicity.
I’ll be honest and say that at first, some of the characters and their motivations didn’t ring wholly true with me during Synchronicity’s first act; something felt a bit "off", but I quickly realized that, as the film dug deeper into its themes and explored the connections between everyone—especially Jim and Abby—those idiosyncrasies would eventually get smoothed out by elements of the script later on. There are a lot of really interesting twists and turns that Gentry and co-writer Orr work into the script, ultimately making for a movie that only gets better with repeated viewings (I did end up re-watching the first 30 minutes again, and they do work better once you know some of the reveals).
The only real bummer part of Synchronicity to me is how underutilized Ironside feels during the latter part of the film. His character starts off as a real threat to both Jim and his research, but as the story spends more time squarely focused on the blossoming relationship between Jim and Abby, it feels like Synchronicity almost moves past its own villain, ultimately making Meisner feel a bit like a one-dimensional character by the conclusion. Both Bowen and Poythress are great, though, giving Synchronicity a bit of a humorous twinge throughout and keeping the story from ever feeling dour or getting too caught up in the overall drama of Jim’s dilemma.
By and large though, Synchronicity is a wonderfully clever sci-fi outing that rises above certain trappings that would have ultimately tripped up a director with a lesser vision and ability at the helm. Gentry’s ability to create this retro-futuristic vibe from start to finish is top-notch, and his reliance on a core group of actors he’s very comfortable working with (McKnight, Bowen and Poythress) elevates his low-fi, high-ambition take on time travel as the trio have an infectious chemistry that makes the whole affair that much more engaging.
It may not be a film that initially connects with you due to some of its heady material, but for me, the complexities pay off once you’re able to fit all the pieces of Synchronicity’s elaborate puzzle together, making for an impressive take on time travel and all the possibilities that come along with it.
Movie Score: 4/5