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‘Synchronic’ review: Anthony Mackie looks back without rose tinted glasses

Time after time.

Synchronic follows two New Orleans paramedics who are investigating a series of gruesome accidents. What is happening is shocking, but the pair also believe they have figured everything out. The two friends come to the conclusion that a new party drug is in the area. Before long they stumble upon a truth that has them question reality and time itself.

Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are best friends. They also envy each other’s lives. Steve wants to have the settled down home life of Dennis. For his part, Dennis wants to live like a bachelor who does not have to answer to anyone. Synchronic is a little too familiar at times. At first, it seems like the story may be presenting the audience with a comforting idea before the trippier aspects of the movie kick in. Mackie and Dornan do a great job of getting the strength of the friendship over. The relationship may be a typical one, but the two leads make the most of it.

The first half of the movie is almost a dystopian mystery. (The movie is not set in the future, but its bleak settings will be reminiscent of many films that are.) Steve and Dennis think they have the answer, but still work to put all the pieces together. Synchronic does a complete about face about midway through. At this point, it becomes a straight up sci-fi movie with a pretty neat premise.

The script struggles to keep up with what the movie is trying to accomplish. Dennis and his wife Tara’s marital turmoil is given so little time, it does not leave a lasting impression. Compounding matters, is the decision to keep Dennis off screen for a long period of time. Synchronic essentially has to reintroduce the conflict. It is an odd decision, to say the least.

Steve’s character does not fare much better. He is much more interesting and Mackie brings some levity to Synchronic. He just is not given enough to do. His travels to help his friend are too short and uninspired. These moments are a showcase for Mackie’s acting ability, but to not add much to the overall story. More than anything, they show off the potential the film has.

Synchronic has a very interesting theme. Nostalgia for the past is something everyone experiences. The film is not so subtlety saying the past is not all that great. It is a fun take that is not just about explaining the seedy underbelly of  days past. It is a straight up critique stating things were not as great as people say they were. Despite a underdeveloped story, it works.

Synchronic comes to theaters and drive-ins October 23.

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