A different kind of science fiction thriller
Synchronic is a film that initially presents a fairly routine premise for a contemporary drama or thriller. People are turning up dead or injured under mysterious circumstances, the police can’t make heads or tails of it all, and the main character is dealing with a personal issue that leads to some self-reflection of what matters in life. I find this set up is often (lazily) used to create a few plot threads of suspense in films of this genre, creating fairly artificial intrigue, though Synchronic is able to push originality and a steady plot progression to avoid being listed as a cliché science fiction thriller.
Steve is a paramedic working with his best friend, with whom the he begins to receive call outs to increasingly strange, some seemingly impossible, medical emergencies around town. When the series of bizarre events takes a more personal turn, Steve begins to investigate more closely and starts looking more outside the box at what might be behind the violent encounters. Synchronic does two things very well to make it stand out from (in my opinion) a highly over saturated market for this type of movie. Firstly, it doesn’t run for 2+ hours just for the sake of it, or in an attempt to appear “epic” in scale. The plot moves along at a steady pace; things are constantly happening and linking together which makes it naturally entertaining. I find it to be a fine example of less is more. The second aspect is the visual design of the film. Synchronic has a strong visual style and makes good use of special effects, utilizing them to enhance certain scenes but never adding them just to make something appear more exciting. The use of colours conveys an “otherworld” vibe when needed, and the setting of the film almost exclusively at night provides strong atmosphere and some great use of lighting.
If you like science fiction or thrillers, Synchronic is worth watching if not only to provide comparison as to where many other films in the genre fall short. It highlighted for me how overly drawn out and over reliant on special effects a lot of new releases in this genre can be, as well as how those films often fail at making the personal issues of the characters resonate with the audience. Synchronic stays firmly in its lane and is ultimately a better film for doing so.
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