Cinematic Releases: Fate (2017) - Reviewed

Fate isn't out until August 15th but we've got the early word. We did it with time travel. 

Fate is a sci-fi drama about a brilliant scientist named Connor (Daniel Bonjour from CW’s Frequency and 3 episodes of The Walking Dead)) who is studying time travel. He is so obsessed with his work that he neglects other important parts of his life, most notably his long-suffering fiancée April (Anne Clare Graham). After a tragic event, Connor attempts to travel back in time to change the past.

The film’s major theme is an interesting one: can we change our fate or are certain outcomes destined? There are scenes where it appears that the film really is interested in exploring possible answers to these questions as opposed to just using them to set its plot in motion. Unfortunately, Fate is overcomplicated by two unnecessary subplots (one involves Connor’s boss and the other is about his relationship with his assistant) that distract the film from getting anywhere with its ideas. They really only further the main story through contrivance and could have been excised without losing anything essential to the plot. They only serve to add a heap of clichés to what could have potentially been a thought-provoking story.

The basic idea is okay, but a few of the performances are far too big for the material. They bring some of the scenes too close to the edge of parody, which is death for some of the more dramatic moments in the film. Additionally, the music too obviously cues the audience on how they should feel instead of giving viewers the opportunity to become engaged in the material in an organic way. Even without any lyrics, I felt like I was repeatedly being tapped on the shoulder and told that “this scene is sad!” Or “something bad is about to happen!” It almost works as a narration as opposed to an accompaniment and is very distracting.

Damn, all this telescoping is making me hot. 

The lead performance by Daniel Bonjour as Connor is one of the best things about the movie. Since everyone else seems to be overplaying their parts, his line-readings seem refreshingly subdued in comparison. Sometimes a little too subdued. There are a couple of moments where he seems remarkably unfazed by something he should probably be blown away by. But then he is a scientist, so analysis instead of an immediate reaction makes sense for the character. It is not necessarily award worthy, but it is a solid enough fit for the material.

The best part of the film is actually the very end which provides a pretty clever twist on the movie’s ideas about fate. It was a pleasant surprise just when I thought the story wasn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, the film leading up to that ending is a little too unfocused to fully commit to the more interesting possibilities its premise raises. Thus it never got me completely involved as a viewer. There was just enough interesting material to stop me from getting bored, but cutting out some of the superfluous supporting characters and focusing solely on Fate’s concept of fate could have made for a much more enjoyable viewing experience.

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- Ben Pivoz