The news that indi filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have just been hired as directors for a new Marvel show on Disney Plus shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Synchronic, particularly after having followed the progression of their career prior to their latest low budget science fiction thriller. There are distinct differences in their latest film, most notably being the casting of name actors and an unambiguous sci-fi premise. This is easily their most accessible film, and at times it feels like a calling card to Hollywood to prove that it is possible to make Christopher Nolan films with a fraction of the budget and half the plot holes.
Having established themselves as directors who thrive in low budget sci-fi films that commonly have a horror or thriller slant with Resolution, Spring, and The Endless, Synchronic feels like a clear continuation of their directorial style and narratives. It also continues a near hallucinatory approach to filmmaking, though this film uses it in a way that is grounded in rules of the story premise. This one explains the strange happenings with the existence of a designer drug known as Synchronic which is plaguing the streets of New Orleans.
When paramedics and longtime friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) come across several bizarre accidents on the job, they find that all are tied to a new synthetic drug being legally sold. This pill is designed as a knockoff of MDMA, but rather than acting as a hallucinatory drug, it has an unintended affect on the brain that alters time. In short, this pill creates the ability for time travel. When Dennis’s teenage daughter (Ally Ioannides) takes the drug and vanishes, Steve takes it upon himself to experiment until he finds a way to bring her back.
While Synchronic may not have the budget of a film like Tenet, a fact that is quite clear with some of the visual effects, it does offer a script that remains intelligent even after analysis. In their past films, Moorhead and Benson had a tendency to leave things ambiguous. While this was exciting, it would likely also leave mainstream audiences disappointed. Synchronic is a clear effort for them to appease to a wider audience. The next question we have to ask is whether or not their intelligence and creativity will be able to survive the beast that is Disney, as very few before them have.
The Blu-ray release for Synchronic may not boast the visual spectacle that a Hollywood blockbuster might, but the work done to achieve the visuals of the sci-fi premise are deserving of being seen in higher definition of Blu-ray. The Blu-ray disc also comes with an impressive assortment of extras, most notably a commentary track with directors and producers. There is also a making-of featurette, as well as a previsualization of the VXF for the film’s most important sequences. As if that weren’t enough, there is also additional footage in the form of deleted scenes and an alternative ending (another sign of efforts to make a commercially viable film).
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 8/10