Tuesday, May 17, 2016

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Synchronicity

2015, Jacob Gentry (The Signal) -- download

Like all good time travel movies, this story begins with a machine and a time travel experiment. That is also the first sentence of my fictional best-selling time travel novel. Of course, the machines and their technology are always superfluous. Jim Beale is obviously a genius level theoretical physicist. And at least one of his buddies must be a genius level engineer, but I am always amused how it's the physicist who gets the glory. Really, they have the idea but if the hands don't labour on the machine, all the theories in the world cannot be implemented. But we skip past that; Jim and his two buddies have built a time machine with the funding of (super ultra mega) Bad Guy Klaus (Michael Ironside). Actually Klaus isn't all that bad, but with Ironside playing him, I kept on expecting him to break out into maniacal laughter at any moment. So, yes time machine - funding - experiment.

Usually the next line in that elevator pitch is, "and something goes wrong." Well, not here. The first test trial is successful. But it's rather anti-climactic. Lights, swirls, flashes and loud noises and a ... shadow passing through the test chamber? Someone left a flower in a jar? Oh, but that is intentional. Their goal, you see, is to open THIS end of the time travel worm hole, and then convince Klaus to pay for the other end of the experiment in five days. It must have happened, right? Someone gave them the flower right? Paradox vs predestination and all that. And things just get weirder from there. Who sent the flower through? What if they decide not to? It's Klaus's flower? Then how can he say no to the funding? And who is this girl who seems to know too much?

We will skip past all of the director's fascination for Blade Runner and the Vangelis style music, and the Asian inspired mega-city, and the smoke filled rooms, and the window blinds. There is nothing Blade Runner-ish about this movie but for stylistic choices. What we have is a theory of time travel movie wrapped up in a love story. The theory at dispute is whether time travel is a wormhole to your own past, in your time stream, or whether it's to a parallel time stream. Jim gets to find out, as he is the shadow that jumps into the past to deliver the flower. And to meet himself, with catastrophic results, and to meet the girl he is ever to love and influence her to that love, without knowing it himself. And then again, to set things right. And then... and then.  And then again.

I rather liked this slow moving, rather anti-action movie. A lot happens but it happens behind low budget, closed doors, in darkly lit rooms and outside concrete buildings. The cast is minimal, the script focused on Jim and Jim and Jim^n and Abby. And John. It is kind of clunky at points and often second guesses itself, but I like the way it played out.