Director: Paul Currie
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Michiel Huisman, Maeve Dermody, Sam Reid
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
Rating: PG13 (Scene of Intimacy)
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Opening Day: 3 August 2017
Synopsis: New York City air traffic controller Dylan Branson (MICHIEL HUISMAN) is the embodiment of a guy at the top of his game, until one day at 2:22pm, a blinding flash of light paralyzes him for a few crucial seconds as two passenger planes barely avoid a midair collision. Suspended from his job, Dylan begins to notice the increasingly ominous repetition of sounds and events in his life that happen at exactly the same time every day. An underlying pattern builds, mysteriously drawing him into Grand Central Station every day 2:22pm. As he's drawn into a complex relationship with a beautiful woman who works in an art gallery, Sarah (TERESA PALMER), disturbingly complicated by her ex-boyfriend Jonas (SAM REID), Dylan must break the power of the past, and take control of time itself.
‘2:22’ builds a mystery around a repetitive series of events that surround our lead protagonist Dylan (Michiel Huisman), a former hotshot air traffic controller whose savant ability to see patterns in everyday life is disrupted one day, resulting in a near collision between two passenger planes at New York’s JFK International Airport and his subsequent suspension from his job. Pretty soon, Dylan starts experiencing recurring visions of the immediate moments preceding a murder at Grand Central station – a businessman, a pregnant woman, couples hugging and a group of schoolchildren – that occurs at the titular timestamp. These quickly become pattern of recurrences in the hours preceding that critical moment in time – a drop of water, a bug crushed, a minor vehicular crash followed by an altercation etc. As he learns of a murder that happened at the exact same time in Grand Central three decades ago, Dylan becomes convinced that the signs point to something in his near future, no matter how crazy that may sound to his newfound art curator girlfriend Sarah (Teresa Palmer).
If the premise of Todd Stein and Nathan Parker’s screenplay sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because films like Jim Carrey’s ‘The Number 23’ or Nicolas Cage’s ‘Knowing’ had also explored how clues in the present portended a certain impending calamity for their respective protagonists, with perhaps the only exception here being how that concept is developed around a love story. Oh yes, even though Dylan’s budding romance with Sarah (whom he meets after attending a modern-day ballet performance for the first time in his life) may seem incidental to his visions, it soon becomes clear that she is instrumental to them, especially as she is the link between Dylan and Jonas (Sam Reid), a visual artist whose latest exhibition Sarah is curating just happens to be a 3D holographic representation of the very scene at Grand Central that has been playing back and forth in Dylan’s mind. The connections don’t end there – Sarah is not only of the same age as Dylan, she also shares the same birthday as him; and oh, Jonas also happens to be Sarah’s ex-boyfriend, and despite what he says, you can see in his eyes that he is still a jealous ex-lover.
As with such movies, you’ll need a certain suspension of disbelief in order to get into its rhythm. Most fundamentally, you’ll have to believe that there is one version of the future that is predetermined, i.e. that version which Dylan has premonitions about and races against time to avoid, and another version which can result if he manages to take the necessary preventive measures. Inevitably, such movies fall victim to the logical fallacies of the causal loop, which often makes you cynical that the many coincidences along the way are in fact no more than just narrative conveniences. Some movies like Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival’ earn your benefit of the doubt by being deliberately and meticulously realistic; while others like Australian director Paul Currie’s film here opts instead for slick visuals and brisk enough pacing to distract you from asking too many questions.
To Currie’s credit, he does succeed in maintaining a fair bit of intrigue throughout the movie, keeping you guessing just what it all means for Dylan as well as how a certain point in his future is somehow written in the events of the past. Notwithstanding, as much as we had wanted to be sold on its ‘the-clues-to-our-future-lie-in-the-events-of-the-past’ concept, it just is too far-fetched for us to buy into the fact that Dylan is not just gifted with the extraordinary ability to recognise patterns in seemingly ordinary circumstances but also with the skill of reading how the stars align in the sky to foretell our fates past and present. To say that the science behind it is hokey is probably an understatement, and it doesn’t get any better by the time all the pieces of the puzzle come together for the revelatory finale, which is arguably a lot less fascinating than you’re expecting it to be.
‘2:22’ is further undermined by middling performances from its barely committed leads. Best known for his role on ‘Game of Thrones’, Huisman comes off bland and oddly detached, and aside from being good-looking and therefore easy on the eye, never quite manages to get you invested in his character’s fate. Meanwhile, Palmer makes the best of an underwritten role, but her scenes with Huisman hardly exude chemistry for us to believe that the pair would have fallen so deeply in love with each other after a brief few dates together. Despite an intriguing premise, this science-fiction mystery/ romance/ thriller struggles to develop its ideas or connect the dots in a meaningful and significant way, ultimately leaving you with a sense of frustration over its missed opportunity and unsatisfying execution. If the payoff after one and a half hours is simply how the past repeats itself, there’s hardly any mystery why you’ll want to reset the clock back to ‘0:00’.
(An intriguing premise that unfolds in messy fashion and ends with a middling payoff, this sci-fi mystery-thriller-romance mishmash is hardly worth two hours of your time)
Review by Gabriel Chong