Film Review – Synchronic (2019, Second Opinion)

Benson and Moorhead. No, not a pair of solicitors who you might see pop up on your television screens asking whether you had an accident at work or whether you have sought out life insurance yet. Actually, two of cinema’s shining lights in terms of new, exciting talent who while making a big splash with their previous works, are ready to join the elite with their latest effort that has led to Kevin Feige snapping up the dynamic duo for their new Disney+ show, Moon Knight.

While that will surely bring them an army of new fans eager to seek out their films, everyone should sit up and take notice of Synchronic, a trippy, unique and sometimes impenetrable film that basks in the glow of originality. Well, yes, the lure of time travel is nothing new – Marvel, ironically, delved deep into such things with Avengers: Endgame – but Benson and Moorhead’s smart, visceral addition to the sub-genre is by turns haunting, exhilarating and heartbreaking.

In keeping with the MCU connection, the film is lead by Anthony Mackie (excellent as ever) alongside Jamie Dornan (solid if arguably miscast) as paramedic partners who are investigating increasingly scary and bloody goings on in New Orleans. The deaths are getting stranger, the causes harder to nail down, with only the consistent appearance of a revolutionary underground drug known as Synchronic to link them at all. That is, until Mackie’s Steve digs back a little further. WAY back further. To say more would be robbing you of its novel narrative but rest assured, this will have you head scratching many hours afterwards in the best possible way.

We’ve told you as much as we can but the film goes deep in its look at time and life, exploring our place on Earth and amongst the cosmos, our hopes and dreams and, of course, the afterlife and what possibilities it will present, if any, and how we will be seen by others when we are gone. It’s a heady whirlwind of a film that showcases the directing duo’s array of talents for drama, emotion and larger-than-life ideas, here beautifully brought to life through swirly, dreamlike cinematography and the marriage of physical and rendered, as if stepping into a fairytale of your own making with Jimmy LaValle’s poetic, melancholic score pulsating through every moment. It is truly an experience like no other that manages the brilliant magic of combining such huge ideas with small, intimate moments of true magic.

Furthermore, Synchronic reminds us, once more, of the crushing disappointment that you can’t see it on a huge screen right now. If there’s any justice, we all will do soon enough and that is the biggest compliment we can pay it.

★★★★


Sci-fi, Thriller | USA, 2020 | 15 | Digital | 29th January 2021 (UK) | Signature Entertainment | Dir. Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead | Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Ally Ioannides, Katie Aselton.