Not many filmmakers can turn heads with a single release, but Jacob Gentry earned his must-watch potential after striking gold with 2007’s The Signal (a shared effort with David Bruckner and Dan Bush). All eyes were on what Gentry would do next, which ended up being a three-part slasher franchise on MTV known as My Super Psycho Sweet 16 – which, admittedly, weren’t the worst. But his televised splatterfests didn’t showcase Gentry’s full potential, which makes Synchronicity all that much sweeter a return for the ambitious indie auteur. Once again Gentry explodes with genre vibrancy (Sci-fi this time), as we’re transported to a metallic future that’s molded into an engrossing cinematic universe. Gentry does more than make movies, he builds entire worlds. It’s immersion in the fullest form.
Chad McKnight stars as Jim Beale, a physicist who is on the verge of mastering time-travel. Aided by his laboratory associates, Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matty (Scott Poythress), it comes time to give Beale’s machine a full run to impress their financial backer, a businessman named Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside). The machine revs and whirs, spewing lights in all directions, and once the portal opens, Jim immediately passes out – only to awake after Meisner has left. But hope appears on the experimentation room’s floor in the form of a Dahlia, which sits in front of Beale’s machine. Video footage backs up Jim’s curiosity when a fuzzy form is seen running out of the wormhole, suggesting someone dropped the plant and sprinted out the front door. Jim excitedly retraces the shape’s tracks, and bumps into a stunning beauty named Abby (Brianne Davis) – which is where the real adventure starts…
Synchronicity doesn’t hold back its techy geekdom. Gentry builds upon time paradoxes, wormhole exploration, parallel universes, and many other scientific quandaries, all of which revolve around a story driven by human emotion. In typical sci-fi fashion, the deeper Gentry dives into an increasingly frantic deep end, the more characters mutter higher-level lingo – but we’re never left out in the cold. Beale’s continued attempts to beat time are neatly manipulated into questions of existence, along with the absurd reality of forced fates. Gentry’s tightly-wound thriller is a wealth of cinematic riches, even if it does become a tad blurry towards the end with a finale that’s more about appeasement than revelation.
McKnight is a huge part of Synchronicity‘s success, as he guides us through Gentry’s twisted temporal maze. His intelligence comes across with a tinge of ego, but he’s a charming, passionate and chaotic genius – like his brain synapses never stop firing at tremendous speeds. McKnight is a charismatic lead, and benefits from having both Bowen and Poythress deliver steadfast supporting performances to no shock. His interactions with Davis are of a different, more love/hate ilk, as expected, and their continually muddied relationship is a major source of intrigue as they dance back and forth between star-crossed lovers and professional spies. Mix in Ironside’s cutthroat villainy, and these characters all work together like mathematicians solving a common equation – equally endearing and dramatic.
Gentry’s design is also an integral component of Synchronicity, as we’re shown a future soaked in a dull, sullen blue haze. Everything is dark, which only makes Beale’s impressive light show pop even more when his famed machine starts emitting piercing beams of light. It’s the equivalent of Beale being shown his great white hope when the wormhole opens, blinding his character with scientific wonder. There’s a lot of manipulation of lighting throughout Gentry’s vision, whether it’s to highlight certain details (the Dahlia) or keep a consistent tone, but set design also gets a major mention for creating an intricate laboratory setup worth Gentry’s scientific focus. At the very least, Synchronicity looks the part – but superficial this film is not.
In the end, Synchronicity is a sleek sci-fi thriller that races by, as Jacob Gentry makes a much-needed return to feature filmmaking. The performances he’s able to extract are so genuine that they distract from the green-screened backdrops of a monotone, futuristic cityscape, and humanity somehow reigns supreme in a densely calculated story of human duplication, which is not an easy feat. A few cinematic shortcomings do rear their heads, but genre charms help Gentry gloss over these rough patches under a focused, exploratory lens.
This is comfort food for science fiction fans, just gobble it up and enjoy.
Synchronicity is a methodically paced excursion into a thrilling sci-fi experience, winning over audiences with passionate genre charms.