Chronicle: 2067 is a visually appealing sci-fi jaunt that world builds tremendously before becoming all too generic and cookie-cutter for its good.
With the air so polluted that the only way to breathe is through manufactured air canisters. The human race is on its knees until a message from the future gives one of the biggest corporations on Earth hope. A reclusive young man Ethan (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is to be the saviour of the human race but what he discovers in his journey through time is an unthinkable conspiracy. Would you save humanity if you knew humanity may not be worth saving after all?
The cast and their performances are wonderful in Chronicle: 2067 with Smit-McPhee portraying a man who has almost given up on the future. To one who will do anything for it. It is a great turn by him and he is supported well by Ryan Kwanten who plays Jude well as you do not fully suspect his role in the plot until it is revealed. The most heart-breaking performance, however, goes to Sana’a Shaik as Ethan’s schoolteacher wife Xanthe. She steals the early parts of the film and helps drive the heart and reason for it. Her scene when Ethan leaves for chronicle without saying goodbye is heart-breaking as he believes she is asleep. But a slow pan reveals the truth.
For all the goodwill that has to be said about the cast and their performances. They are utterly hindered by the script that forces the cast to be pretty cliché that you can almost see them trying to break out from the dialogue they have been given. Brother for example is said far too often in this film.
At one point Ethan says for Jude to not use his Xanthe’s name as a guilt trip and if only Seth Larney had done the same thing. The old trope of carrying out the task to save a loved one (but usually the wife of the child) is so worn out at this point that it is a surprise that they went with it. The entire first act and Ethan’s reason for going on the mission are persuading Ethan to do it for his wife, or his dead parents. There is so much forced sympathy brought to the table that you want to shout how much you get it and move on.
Larney drives the grim future of the world with some stunning visuals. Any of the backdrops in the film trick us into thinking there is a far larger budget involved and a lot of credit needs to go to the teams to implement such designs. The falling apart cityscape is gorgeous as well as the brilliantly shot vegetation filled future. It is just a shame the story cannot match it.
What hurts Chronicle: 2067 the most is how for that final act they could have gone in any direction with this concept. However, writer/director Seth Larney decided to go down the far too walked down route narrative. It is such a shame as there are so many possibilities that the story could go down that you feel let down by the writing. The world-building in the opening 30 minutes presents us with a world we can be invested in for the next two hours.
Yet, we deviated from that and venture down science fiction conformity and are presented with a picture that is visually appealing and well-acted but ends in the same story we have seen so many times.
The writing issues do not start and stop there. However, as we are given huge time jump sized plot holes to go through. We find out that Ethan must go through the chronicle. Fair enough, after too-ing and fro-ing he goes through with it. Yet for such a vital and humanity saving mission. He is given next to no training, no information. Nothing. He is just given things to remember in the minutes he has to leave on. It causes the goodwill from the previous world-building to find its first misstep. We needed at least something to show that this was serious. Not for us to solely feel for the ailing wife. There needed more subtext to the characters instead of the backstory of Ethan.
We are given a rather pointless 4-hour timeframe for our two heroes to complete their tasks. But it is hard to fathom that everything can be completed under this deadline unless it is 100m from each location. There is no need for that 4-hour countdown. Just a needless crutch to lean on when the film needs far less melodrama in it to succeed. For a film that could have said a lot about humans and our abuse of nature and human nature. It tiptoes around it when it should be deep diving in there.
This is especially the case considering the runtime that again was not required if this was the story trying to be told. There is a feeling that this could have been multiple films. But for reasons unknown, all of the films drama was pushed together to make this one piece. If anything it would be favourable to see a longer version of this tale that can expand and detail more on these characters and world. A lovely miniseries would do.
Chronicle: 2067 had the opportunity to be a real standout in the science fiction genre this year. Yet it just pilfers it all away with a narrative that visually it is well above. While enjoyable and harmless, it is such a pity as it could have been so much more.
Signature Entertainment presents Chronicle: 2067 on DVD and Digital HD 7th December.
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