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Synchronic | 2019 | R | – 3.7.9

content-ratingsWhy is “Synchronic” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “drug content and language throughout, and for some violent/bloody images.” The evaluation includes an implied sex scene, a couple of kissing scenes and a strip club scene with partial nudity, several scenes with bloody deaths and a dismemberment after a drug is taken and the people taking it apparently time travel, discussion of cancer treatments and a couple of scenes of the treatment being administered, discussions of designer drugs and drug use, and about 46 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

Two New Orleans paramedics (Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan) are sent on especially strange emergency calls, and they discover a world of surreal drug use, time travel, and the disappearance of one of their daughters (Ally Ioannides) down a psychedelic rabbit hole. Also with Katie Aselton and Bill Oberst Jr. Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. A few phrases are spoken in Spanish, French, Creole and two unidentified languages without translation. [Running Time: 1:42]

Synchronic SEX/NUDITY 3

 – A man in a darkened bedroom is shown wearing tight underwear, seen from the back in a long shot with a woman under bed covers with bare shoulders and one arm showing; the man leaves after saying it is good to meet the woman (sex is implied). A man and a woman lie on a bed, fully clothed and he kisses her on the cheek. In a background shot, a man and a woman kiss briefly. A man and a woman sit on a bed fully clothed, watching TV.
 A man is described as a ladies’ man. A man says he may be getting a divorce because the disappearance of his daughter has strained his marriage, and he cries for several seconds. A man says he wishes his wife wore sexier underwear. A young woman says she is pregnant. A woman tells her baby that a male friend “slept with all Mommy’s friends.”
 In what we hear is a strip club, we see a pole in the far background with a woman on it (her bare shoulders, arms, thighs, abdomen and a glimpse of a sports top and cleavage are shown).

Synchronic VIOLENCE/GORE 7

 – Two paramedics attend several gruesome emergency calls as eerie electronic music plays throughout the film: At a domestic abuse call they find a bloody sword sticking in a wall after we see a couple each swallow a white pill and watch the room change into a bushy and rocky landscape; when the man leaves and enters an elevator car that changes into a desert, the woman hears heavy breathing and is approached by a man with long hair and wearing a skin top and loin cloth over trousers as a snake slithers onto the woman’s leg and when EMTs arrive, the woman is shown crying and cannot speak as the paramedics say her leg is swollen from a snake bite (we see an empty designer drug paper) and a man asks her if she is from a Pentecostal religion (implying snake handlers); paramedics find her boyfriend dead in an elevator shaft, dismembered with blood on his chest and severed legs and an unconscious teen boy lies in the woman’s room and is revived with a Narcan injection after a drug overdose and a knife wound that shows a little blood around the chest. A man lies on a floor with brown stains on his shirt and red spots on the rug and paramedics tape his bleeding chest closed. A burn victim’s charred and twisted body is shown and we see an empty designer drug wrapper; a police officer says it is a case of spontaneous human combustion and a brief flashback shows the male victim standing against a wall of fire. A dead teen boy who overdosed is found by paramedics and a lethargic girl says there was a third girl there who disappeared (she is the daughter of one of the paramedics, who becomes upset) and we see an empty designer drug wrapper on the chair where she had been sitting. An emergency call is described as a homeless people’s swordfight; we see an unconscious man lying on a gurney in an EMT truck with blood on his face, chest, and hands. A man wearing a top hat and skeleton face makeup babbles and laughs maniacally, high on unknown drugs when EMTs arrive; his lower leg has an open fracture that shows some blood and broken bone and two paramedics argue and briefly fistfight (there are no injuries) in front of the victim, who screams with laughter and is then put into the EMT truck.
 A man swallows a pill, disintegrates, and time travels to a bayou, where he learns that the time travel lasts only seven minutes; he sees a man who calls him a slave and attacks him with a sword, while an alligator rushes forward, but the first man disappears. A man swallows a pill and time travels to an Ice Age snowstorm where he shivers and grunts in pain at the cold; returning home, he soaks in a tub of hot water where we see only his bare shoulders and arms. A man swallows a pill and wearing a parka, goes into a snowstorm, sees a Neanderthal man approach wearing long robes and carrying a spear with which he touches the traveler’s hand; they sit around a small fire. A man swallows a pill and takes his dog time traveling to the Jim Crow South of the 1930s, but loses the dog in the time continuum when men shout for the police and charge toward him with a hatchet; he vanishes before he can be captured.
 A man takes a pill, time travels and encounters several men that tackle him, punch him, and chase him until he vanishes back to the present. A man swallows a pill and time travels to a Civil War battlefield where we see a fireball in the sky and dozens of cannons and small fires as we hear and see small explosives hit the ground and explode; the man is struck in the leg with shrapnel and we see a cut and some bleeding as he shouts in pain and doubles over, crawling through a long trench full of dead men and he finds a woman in the trench, gives her his last pill, and they limp to a boulder where they are stopped by a soldier who holds the man at gunpoint because he “is a slave”; the woman returns to the present as the soldier steps on a small explosive and goes up in flames and the man seems to become a ghost, transparent and pixel-like as the ghost reaches out and shakes hands with a man in the present and the scene ends.
 We hear that a chemist committed suicide by cyanide and a teen girl died from using an illegal drug. We hear a man’s mother and another man’s parents and younger sister died in a hurricane. In a smoke shop, a man shouts at a clerk for selling a designer drug that he says is killing people (please see the Substance Use category for more details). We hear that when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, coffins washed out of cemeteries and a man watched as the wooden coffins of his parents and young sister washed into a creek; several flashbacks show the three coffins floating in mud and rain.
 Two men argue and shout at each other several times. In a graveyard with aboveground crypts, a man shows another man videos of his (first man’s) time travels. A man tells another man that he has cancer, causing a brief argument. A man argues with his partner, who accuses him of drug abuse and addiction, but we later hear that the radiation is causing behaviors like fatigue, lethargy, sleepy attitude and irritability.
 A man hears noise in his house and gets out of bed with a baseball bat to find a closet door rattling, he opens the door to find a man and both men shout and scream; the closet man says that he is a chemist and that a designer drug (please see the Substance Use category for more details) affects the pineal gland to alter time perception, and that children time travel because their pineal glands are not calcified like adults so when adults use the drug, they move through time while looking like a transparent ghost, but if children use the drug, they often cannot come back to the present time.
 A paramedic suffers a contaminated needle stick and shouts in pain, is tested for HIV and other infections (we see only an empty syringe), and is told that he has brain cancer with only six weeks to live; we see him receive several radiation treatments with his head and face covered in white mesh and red lights, and we also see him inside an MRI machine and hear loud noises from the machine.
 A man vomits a large amount of brown material into the street after a radiation treatment. A man vomits brown material onto the ground.

Synchronic LANGUAGE 9

 – About 46 F-words and its derivatives, 1 obscene hand gesture, 33 scatological terms, 7 anatomical terms, 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, idiot, dumb, ugly, ridiculous, selfish, racist, drunken, drunken cliché, orangutan, kangaroo loony, New Agey, Rain Man on cocaine), 5 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, God, I Swear To God). | profanity glossary |


 – A few people mention a recently discontinued psychedelic drug called Synchronic and other drugs are mentioned (morphine, codeine, coke, heroin, ganji, sugar booger and bath salts), a man buys all of the Synchronic drug left at a smoke shop and another man offers him a large sum of money for it but is denied, a man takes a pill several times and travels through time because of its effect, a man suspects his work partner of stealing morphine from their paramedic truck when a dispatcher calls to say the drug is being stolen, and a man says that he used recreational drugs for 10 years. Two men at a bar table hold bottles of beer, a beer bottle is shown on a kitchen counter in a home, two men share a pint of whiskey and later drink from beer bottles beside a river, a man drinks from a pint bottle hidden in a paper bag, a teen girl drinks a cup of beer given to her by a man, a man says that he drank tequila, and a man drinks several times from a large bottle of whiskey. A woman in a smoke shop vapes and we see packages of various vaping materials.


 – Recreational drug use, time travel, hallucinations, medical emergencies, racial profiling in the South, suspicion, conflicts, violence, family, friendship, improving life, sacrifice, helping others, forgiveness, reconciliation.

Synchronic MESSAGE

 – Designer drugs are dangerous and can damage families and friendships, as well as mind and body.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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