Review-Lite: Chronical 2067 (2020)

Kodi Smit-McPhee in Chronical 2067

It is hard to deny that the time loop film is a story done to death. A quest to defeat fate, change destiny or some such conveluted silliness. The fact that these stories keep emerging might mean we are suckers who keep taking in the same thing thinking it is something new or that it is a story worth telling over and over. Chronical 2067 firmly slots itself in the middle of this dilemma with a story that is both unoriginal and pleasantly surprising in many ways. Set on a dying Earth where synthetic oxygen has become a comodity in a world unable to sustain human life without it. When a message from the future meant for unremarkable Ethan (Kodi Smitt-McPhee) offers a chance at salvation he finds himself on a possibly one way trip to the future. Directed by Seth Larney and shot on a meager budget, Chronical makes up for its heavy handed and played out narrative about human self-destruction with a world design to be expected from big budget films. Cleverly telling a far reaching tale on a limited set turns this science-fiction tale into a two man morality play with Ethan joined on his adventure by best friend and survivor Jude (Ryan Kwanten). It is in the moments that Larney (who also wrote the screenplay) settles into this new world and the two conflicting trains of thought affecting these two friends that this tale feels relateable because when Ethan and Jude are talking for the whole human race instead of what is personal, Chronical spins its wheels.

While McPhee gives his all here, Kwanten is the standout, a mesh of untapped rage and psychosis that adds a needed tension to an up until his arrival, case of the week episode of a low budget sci-fi show akin to any of the Stargate series. While Chronical wants to feel like a story about the effects of family and people in a grand narrative, it works best when it deals in vague concepts, not because the story isn’t entertaining but it allows for viewer input. Chronical introduces a debate and ultimately more fun can be had here entering into it instead of feeding off the low budget futuristic trappings that peak your interests at first. The film works because Kwanten and McPhee give their all to a stark but well realised world and a story that feels more like a heated debate. While some will be disappointed with an ending that seems too simplistic and a tale that lacked much outside of the same repeating sets, but as small intimate science fiction goes, Chronical is well realised future worth exploring.

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