Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Synchronic Movie Poster Image
Dark but solid time-travel story has violence, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sacrifice is demonstrated, as is bravery in facing terrifying odds. Movie also prizes committed relationships over promiscuity.

Positive Role Models

Main character Steve is flawed, leading a promiscuous life in terms of sex and drinking/partying. But when he discovers he has a brain tumor, he decides to sacrifice himself to save his best friend's teen daughter. It's a selfless act, but it also depends on the wake-up call he receives (he may not have made the decision otherwise).


Character with bloody chest wound, gurgling blood from mouth. Gory, dismembered body in elevator shaft. Victim in ambulance with bloody chest wound. Burned body. War scene with falling bombs, trench full of dead bodies. Racists and KKK members attack people with rifles. Character shot in leg. Character steps on landmine and explodes. Character attacks with a sword. A group of people gangs up on and attacks the hero. Character has cancer; CAT scan scenes. Fall from tall tree. Some mild scary/horror stuff. Mention of suicide. Shouting and arguing. Vomiting. Dog left behind, trapped in another time.


Scene in a strip club; no nudity shown. A married couple snuggles in bed together. Discussions of people having a promiscuous sex life. Brief joke about teen pregnancy. Other brief sex-related talk.


Strong language includes many uses of "f--k"/"f--king," plus "s--t," "motherf----r," "bulls--t," "t-ts," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "d--k," "shut up," "idiot," "dumb." Middle-finger gesture.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens and adults take a fictitious drug ("Synchronic") in pill form. Teens also smoke pot. Characters appear to have overdosed, teens included. Adults drink frequently (beers, whiskey in bars, straight from the bottle, etc.) and often drink alone, in great quantities, and/or get very drunk. A character discusses his hangovers. An ambulance driver sticks his finger on a stray needle. Character takes codeine, painkillers. Reference to "junkies."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Synchronic is a sci-fi movie about a synthetic drug that causes people to travel through time -- and, unfortunately, to sometimes disappear. Violence can be intense, with gory, wounded, and burned bodies; attacking mobs; guns, swords, and other weapons; a war scene with falling bombs and a man exploding from a landmine; a character with cancer; some scary stuff; and more. Teens take drugs -- both the fictitious title drug and pot -- and characters sometimes overdose. Adults drink heavily and regularly, sometimes getting very drunk. Characters also take codeine/painkillers, etc. Language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," and more. A scene takes place in a strip club, but there's no graphic nudity. Sex is discussed several times, and a married couple cuddles in bed. The movie is less clever than it pretends to be, but it's still a solid choice.

User Reviews

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There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written byZacharyDachary February 23, 2021

Great Movie, Limited gore and violence.

Overall a pretty solid movie, but drags on a bit in the first half.
The violence and gore is the main problem here but it's very infrequent and lasts for... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SYNCHRONIC, Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are New Orleans ambulance drivers and best friends. Dennis is married, with a teen daughter, Brianna (Ally Ioannides), and a new baby; Steve is a hard-drinking playboy. At work, they've discovered that people are dying from a drug called Synchronic. At the same time, Steve finds out that he has a lethal brain tumor in his pineal gland. Then, Brianna turns up missing after having taken the drug. Dennis struggles with trying to find her, while Steve buys up all of the drug he can find to keep it off the street. He soon discovers that it works with the pineal gland and has the ability to transport its user through time. After a few experiments, he realizes that he may be able to use his remaining pills to find Brianna and bring her back.

Is it any good?

This sci-fi movie is arguably more of a chase movie than anything with deep themes, but it still nicely balances a nifty idea with surprising FX, strong characters, and classical suspense. Co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead -- who contributed a segment to V/H/S: Viral and crafted the excellent low-budget sci-fi movie The Endless (2018) -- take a slow-build approach to their story in Synchronic. They establish the nuances of the characters and their relationships, as well as the details of Steve and Dennis' job, long before anything supernatural comes up. Sure, the drug reacting with the pineal gland and Steve's cancer being in the same place are a bit too much of a coincidence, but it's forgivable.

When the time traveling finally kicks in, we already know Steve and everyone else quite well, and we've come to care quite a bit about them. The time-travel sequences are dark and brutal, highlighting a world history of violence, persecution, and raw survival. It's a stark contrast to something like Back to the Future, which Steve verbally demolishes while watching it on TV in a bar. Benson and Moorhead find a muted, naturalistic visual style that seems to connect all the times together, perhaps with death as a common denominator. But even though Synchronic is frequently dark and heartbreaking, it also movingly celebrates sacrifice and heroism, as well as family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Synchronic's violence. How did it affect you? Did it seem necessary to tell the story?

  • How is drinking depicted? How frequently do adults drink, and to what extent? Is drinking glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Is teen drug use glamorized? Does the movie warn teens away from using drugs?

  • How can science fiction be used to tell stories about who we really are?

  • If you could travel to any time, what would it be, and why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

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