The Big Easy has long been a natural backdrop for thrillers and dramas, but with Synchronic, New Orleans gets a different kind of party.
Paramedics and age-old best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) begin to find themselves at the scenes of unusual overdoses, murders, and deaths. Nothing adds up until Steve realizes the common thread among all deaths is a synthetic party drug called Synchronic. He gets pushed to his limit when Dennis’ daughter Brianna (Ally Ioannides) goes missing from a party where she herself has taken the drug. Tormented by memories of loss, Steve buys out what he hopes are the last remaining doses of the drug in order to destroy them. But a chance meeting with the drug’s creator tempts him into trying the drug itself.
Dr. Kermani (Ramiz Monsef) follows Steve home, even breaking into his house to try to find these last doses. It’s only under the threat of police and violence that Kermani admits to the drug’s unintended ability: to travel in time. But there’s a caveat. Only the young with their healthy pituitary glands can access the drug’s potential.
Several subplots help the film move along, but at what seems to be an unnecessarily slow pace. Brianna’s disappearance shows the cracks in Dennis’ marriage, which renders Dennis oblivious to Steve’s physical health. We see Steve, who appears to be a functional alcoholic and chronic one-night-stand participant, receive a devastating health diagnosis. But this diagnosis is what renders him the only person capable to rescue Brianna.
As Steve, a self-professed science nerd, experiments with time travel, we get to see various parts of the past: the Ice Age, an indiegnous tribal ceremony, Spanish colonization of the United States, the Civil War, and perhaps most frighteningly for Steve, a run in with the Ku Klux Klan during segregation. But since there are a limited amount of Synchronic pills left, Steve’s time is running out. Ultimately, Steve succeeds in rescuing Brianna, reuniting her with Dennis, but at a great cost to himself (An alternate ending is available on the DVD/Blu-Ray…).
The time travel sequences are visually stunning and beautifully filmed and edited. All of the set locations and special effects work very well. Mackie is believable as Steve, a complex character with a haunted past and an uncertain future. Dornan’s Dennis is less complex and a little bit of a jerk at times. Dennis does redeem himself by the end of the film, which was expected, but also necessary.
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Synchronic has good intentions, but like a sweltering summer day in the Big Easy, it’s pretty — just really slow.
Synchronic is rated R for drug content, language, mild violence, and limited bloody images. The film is available via digital January 12 and via DVD/Blu-Ray January 26 from Well Go USA.