2020, Unrated, 114 mins.
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Ethan Whyte / Ryan Kwanten as Jude Mathers / Leeanna Walsman as Selene Whyte / Deborah Mailman as Regina Jackson
Directed by Seth Larney / Written by Larney and Dave Paterson
new sci-fi thriller 2067 (yes, a creatively lazy title) has a truly
compelling time travel premise and some thoughtful insights into topical
themes of climate change/ecological disasters, but it never manages to
fully commit to these ideas, nor does it handsomely pay them off in any
meaningful and satisfying manner.
The central ideas surrounding this Seth Laney helmed film are
enthralling enough in the way he chronicles an Earth of the future that
has lost all plant vegetation and, in turn, oxygen, which requires the few
that are left alive to subside on artificial air provided by greedy
This is an ingenious setup for a dystopian genre piece, but 2067
simply can't commit to it in the manner that it wants to, leaving a
resulting film that feels like a hodgepodge of other work (like SILENT
RUNNING, STARGATE, and THE TIME MACHINE) without carving out its own
future of our planet in this film is indeed nightmarishly bleak, and one
that is clearly dealing with all of the past sins of inaction when it
comes to tackling the ongoing calamity of climate change.
Via a fairly nifty and economical prologue that shows a time lapsed
view of Earth from space, we learn that our world has been ravaged by
decades of fires, floods, and all other kinds of hellish atmospheric
all plant life became extinguished, leaving normal oxygen supplies
severely dwindling by the day.
As the film opens in its titular year, we see a future world filled
with desperate citizens sporting masks (chillingly on point) to survive
venturing outside, whereas indoors they subside off of synthetic air
that's made and sold by Chronicorp, which preaches a noble minded
advertising message to the masses, but deep down is just looking to make a
buck off of the suffering of citizens.
And their air is not as easily affordable and available to all,
especially the poor and downtrodden.
In an early and unnerving scene, one street protestor screams out
"Oxygen is not a privilege!" before he sets himself on fire as a
frightening message to onlookers.
main protagonist of this tale is Ethan Whyte (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who works
for the aforementioned corporation with his brother Jude (Ryan Kwanten),
and both spend many agonizing hours in the dirty bowels of the city to
keep all power sources up and running.
Ethan works a punishing number of hours to ensure his financial
survival (an ability to afford air), not to mention to provide a home and
safe haven from the rigors of the outside world for his chronically sick
wife, Xanthe (Sana'a Shaik), whose condition is deteriorating rapidly.
Fate steps in when the higher ups at work invite him in for a
special time sensitive meeting, during which time they reveal to him a
remarkable time tunnel machine called "Chronicle," which was
worked on by Ethan's long estranged and presumed dead father, Richard
And the machine apparently works, and someone or something managed
to send a message from 400 years in the future back to the present with a
few cryptic words: Send Ethan Whyte.
this poses all sorts of tantalizing questions: Who sent this message
people alive and thriving in the future?
And how does Ethan fit into all of this?
Does it have anything to do with his dead dad's work, or the fact
that he placed a permanent electronic bracelet drilled into his son's
wrist as a child?
Ethan is driven, of course, by insatiable curiosity and a
greater sense of purpose, mostly because he appears to be a hand picked figure that's the key to saving the planet, but only if he goes on a
potential suicide mission by allowing himself to be placed into Chronicle
and thrust into the future without a guaranteed chance of making a return
Ethan quickly weighs the pros and cons, but ultimately decides to
take the journey, and Chronicle does manage to shoot him four centuries in
When Ethan arrives he's greeted to a mostly barren (of humans)
landscape, but one that's covered by massive amounts of lush vegetation.
As his mission progresses he comes across a vast and abandoned
scientific bunker, but one that has a human skeleton laying outside of its
entrance that sports a damning reveal that potentially could not only
affect the completion of Ethan's work, but his very sanity and
understanding of the deadly complexities and paradoxes of time travel
the opening sections of 2067 are unquestionably its best in showing an
environmentally ravaged and ruined planet that's facing the extinction of
the human race because of mistakes made in the past.
Great attention has been paid to the production design of this
picture and its overall ominous atmosphere of unending dread, with Laney
spending every nickel of his bargain bin budget to make his film look as
visually arresting as possible.
The forebodingly cold cityscapes and the decrepit bowels of this
plant-less metropolis that harbors workers risking there collective lives
to keep it all afloat looks pretty sensational, even when the frequently
spotty CGI betrays the level of immersion.
The vibrant greenish hues of the flora, plants, and trees of the
future makes for a nice counterpoint for the film's early imagery, which helps
lead viewers into solving the inherent story mysteries that are quickly
unfolding before Ethan's increasingly anxious eyes.
2067 is never a tedious affair to sit through, and it becomes genuinely intoxicating to see where Laney is taking this narrative after
he sends Ethan through time and towards what will become his destiny.
of what's here in the script is hardly anything fresh, though.
2067 is not dull, as just outlined, but it's nevertheless lacking
We've all seen countless downbeat sci-fi futuristic thrillers
featuring chosen one young heroes plucked from obscurity that must fight
against corrupt and powerful systems to save humanity (sorry....been
there, done that), not to mention that the basic time travel conceits and
plots twists here can be seen well ahead with reasonable predictability
(there are moments in the story when Ethan is finally piecing together
clues to formalize answers to the thornier aspects of his brain-busting
temporal journey well after the audience has already done the mental
gymnastics and reached their own accurate conclusions).
Plus, one of the bigger issues that plagues 2067 is the main hero
himself and the casting.
The 24-year-old Australian Smit-McPhee has been remarkable in many past
films (especially as a child actor) like THE
ROAD and LET ME IN, but here
he's six ways from Sunday wrong for his part as a savoir hero, mostly
because he just doesn't have enough intensely raw charisma that the
He's just not a credible presence here, and his performance ranges
from deeply wooden to authentically soulful, but oftentimes leaning
towards the former (Laney's frequently stilted and clichéd riddled
dialogue also does his actors no favors).
2067 might have been served better with his co-star in Ryan Kwanten
quarterbacking the whole affair as the traumatized, but resolute lead.
He brings an unpredictable, lose cannoned edge to the film that
Smit-McPhee simply can't register with any lingering staying power.