Studio: Magnet Releasing
Director: Paul Currie
Writer: Todd Stein, Nathan Parker
Producer: Steve Hutensky, Paul Currie, Jodi Matterson, Bruce Davey
Stars: Michiel Huisman, Teresa Palmer, Sam Reid, John Waters, Richard Davies, Maeve Dermody, Kerry Armstrong
A couple brought together by strange circumstances uncovers a mystery connected to a repeating pattern of people and events.
Dylan Branson’s career as an air traffic controller has been built on his uncanny ability to visualize patterns. After almost directing two planes into a runway collision, odd events suddenly have Dylan seeing sequences in everyday occurrences that could connect to an inexplicable mystery.
A businessman reads a newspaper. A couple hugs. A pregnant woman stands beneath a clock. Ages and ethnicities vary, but Dylan sees the same string of people every day in Grand Central Station. Then at 2:22pm, something goes “boom.” That boom starts as shattered glass, escalates to a blown light, and becomes bigger still when a lobby chandelier crashes.
A nova has been visible in the sky at night, convincing Dylan that starlight from 30 years ago is warping his perception of time. All patterns point to April 18th, Dylan’s upcoming 30th birthday, as the final link in this intensifying chain. Dylan can’t be certain if he is dealing with destiny or with danger. But his new relationship with a passenger on the plane he nearly crashed is almost certainly the key to uncovering how his future and someone else’s past are linked in the present.
You can find patterns of a different sort in “2:22’s” production history. These patterns point toward probable reasons why the film has intriguing inner workings, yet distills down exterior execution with the flavor of flat water.
Todd Stein’s original story likely started as an exciting sci-fi suspense seed, which is what attracted initial interest from investors and actors. In the six-year span between first announcement and DTV distribution, a cluster of cooks in the kitchen then either never found the missing ingredients that would have elevated “2:22” out of mediocrity, or stripped them out before they could be stirred into the stew.
Originally announced with a 2011 start date featuring Armie Hammer as Dylan, “2:22” wasn’t heard from again until 2014, when Benjamin Walker assumed lead actor duties. It was déjà vu all over again one year later as Michiel Huisman of “Game of Thrones” and “The Invitation” (review here) took Dylan’s reins from Walker and principal photography finally commenced.
Front credits for the film identify involvement from five production companies, two Australian funding entities, four producers, one co-producer, 13 executive producers, and three editors on top of an additional writer who revised the script. It takes a village to make a movie, to be sure. But speculation suggests this committee approach may be responsible for dulling the movie’s edge into something more palatably pat for mainstream channels. This is the recipe for turning a creative coincidence-conundrum thriller into cookie-cutter VOD filler.
Outward appearances tick all the boxes. “2:22” has a solid starting point for its story, recognizable talent, sharp cinematography, and a stylish enough sense for stitching action, romance, and mystery into a 90-minute strip of straightforward entertainment. The missing ingredient mentioned earlier is the oomph, the x-factor, or the je ne sais quoi that would put “extra” in front of “ordinary.”
Take Dylan, for instance. Most of his character is created from Michiel Huisman’s charisma. Shots featuring the Holland-born actor essentially compose a model’s demo reel. Dylan works out while shirtless, showers in slow motion, and routinely cocks an eyebrow or his head as though posing for a GQ spread. The only lesson learned here involves affirming Huisman’s handsomeness, in turn affirming “2:22’s” contentedness to prioritize visual appeal over narrative needs.
Dylan’s budding romance with Sarah is similarly centered on movie montages highlighted by meet-cute moments and modern pop needle drops. Building their relationship from a standard rom-com template is ultimately at odds with the plot’s passion for building neo-noir suspense into drama with higher stakes than make sense. Once the climax concludes, there is an unsatisfying notion that the universe conspired on a grand scale to influence countless lives simply for two grains of sand to come together.
The final film is almost certainly not the robust rouser its creator(s) envisioned at the outset. Yet it is the milquetoast mystery constructed above a safety net of cinematic conventions that numerous interests insisted it become.
“2:22” has quite a bit going for it in terms of appealing actors and an absorbing premise. It also has a die-hard desire to fulfill vanilla functions as a relatively tame thriller. There is enough of the former to justify an out-of-curiosity rental, but too much of the latter to warrant anything more.
Review Score: 55