Barry's Time Travel Review Score
Synchronicity is a 2015 science-fiction time-travel directed by Jacob Gentry. The film is centred on a man looking to convince his financer that his time machine works. But to avoid being robbed of his own invention, he takes a giant leap of faith. It’s a low budget film, and a lot of effort has been put into the core concept and timelines. It’s a tad bit confusing and has a potential plot hole. Do check it out. Here’s the plot and ending of the movie Synchronicity explained; spoilers ahead.
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Where To Watch?
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.
Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Synchronicity Movie Timeline Diagram
Here’s the entire movie expressed in a timeline diagram:
Synchronicity Movie Spoiler
The crux of the movie Synchronicity (spoiler alert) is that Jim did not just travel back in time but also moved to a parallel universe (alternate timeline). We see this in movies like Primer and Avengers: Endgame. This means that the other characters we see in the latter half of the film – Abby, Chuck, Matty, etc., are people from an alternate reality. What is the importance of this? Jim’s actions in this alternate reality will not have cascading effects on his own future. He could technically kill the Jim of the past, which will not cause his own death and, therefore, a paradox.
Let us now walk through the entire plot keeping in mind that this movie is about multiple Jims crossing over from and to parallel realities and travelling through time as they do.
Synchronicity Movie: Plot Explained
The Time Machine Explained
Jim, Chuck and Matt have been working on a device that can open two ends of a wormhole one week apart. The device is powered by a radioactive material called M.R.D, supplied by a man named Klaus. The first part of their experiment is to open the receiver end using the M.R.D and receive a unique object from the future. They plan to use this object to prove to Klaus that the machine works and get their funding for the second M.R.D. A week later, they’ll open the transmitting end of the wormhole and send the unique object they received a week back, thereby completing the causal loop.
Jim’s assumption is that this object from the future will come from their own timeline, meaning their own future. When they demonstrate the apparatus to Klaus, Jim goes unconscious, and Klaus leaves. Chuck and Matt discover a rare Dahlia flower at the site of the experiment.
We’re going to have to name the multiple characters and timelines going forward.
The movie begins in one of infinite parallel timelines, let’s call it timeline-101. The Jim we’ve been seeing so far is Jim-101. Correspondingly we have Chuck-101, Matt-101, Klaus-101, and so on.
Who is Abby? What’s the truth about her?
Abby is Klaus’ mistress, and she has been following Jim’s work and is working on a science-fiction novel based on Jim’s character. She is not evil and is not an undercover agent working for Klaus. When she meets Jim, she really falls in love with him.
Why does Jim-101 faint?
While not shown in the movie, in the demo to Klaus-101, a Jim-100 arrives with a Dahlia flower from timeline-100. The presence of two Jims in the same timeline causes Jim-101 to go unconscious. Jim-100’s arrival is later confirmed when they see the video footage and observe an unknown man running out.
In the film, we are never shown Jim-100 or what he does, but we can guess based on Jim-101’s future actions.
Events of timeline-101 with guesses on what Jim-100 does behind the scenes
On arriving, Jim-100 exits and runs into Abby-101. Jim-100 briefly talks with Abby-101 and leaves. Next, Jim-101 shows up and surprises Abby-101 by asking her what she’s doing there. We now know why Abby-101 is so confused about meeting Jim-101. While Jim-101 is meeting her for the first time, Abby-101 just had a run-in with Jim-100 dressed differently (not shown in the film).
Abby-101 and Jim-101 join Klaus-101 and his wife for dinner, where Abby-101 helps convince Klaus-101 to invest in that second M.R.D.
Jim-101 goes over to Abby-101’s house and sees the rare Dahlia. He gets a call from Chuck-101 asking him to get away from the girl. How does Chuck-101 even know about the girl? Well, this is not shown in the film, but Jim-100 has gone over to meet Chuck-101 and Matt-101 to let them know he’s from the future.
Back at the lab, Jim-100 hides as Jim-101 shows up and faints. Jim-100 goes over to Abby-101 and sleeps with her (not shown). In the morning, Abby-101 goes out to get coffee, and as she returns, she runs into Jim-101, who uses the intercom to talk to Jim-100. Abby-101 and Jim-101 go to a bar and talk about his time device. Abby-101 doesn’t know that the person she spent the night with was a different Jim, Jim-100.
Jim-101 makes out with Abby-101 and, when she’s asleep, leaves with the Dahlia from her house. [The following is not shown] As Jim-101 leaves, Jim-100 goes over to Abby-101’s place and lies next to her. He then confronts her, saying she’s been using him. Abby-101 discloses she is working on a science fiction novel based on Jim’s life. Jim-100’s condition becomes fatal because he’s in a timeline that already has another Jim, Jim-101.
Jim-101 meets Klaus-101 to realize that the Dahlia was owned by his company. And because it is such a crucial part of the experiment, Klaus-101 demands 99% ownership of the research.
Chuck-101 and Abby-101 take Jim-100 to her apartment (not shown). Jim-101 shows up at the door with the Dahlia and tells her to choose if she will come alone or with Klaus on the day of the second demo.
[This segment is not shown] Jim-100 hatches a plan with Chuck-101 and Matt-101 to activate the machine earlier, jump back and stop any of this from happening. They agree, but a goof-up by Matt-101 causes the time jump to fail, and the demo is left without an M.R.D.
The importance of the failed experiment
I believe this goof-up results in multiple pathways for the wormhole and allows for the criss-cross of multiple Jims from various timelines. Because of this mistake, some timelines have more arrival points than others (as you can see in the timeline diagram). We don’t know the fate of Jim-100 once he leaves timeline-101.
For whatever reasons, on the demo day, Abby-101 comes with Klaus-101 and the Dahlia. She secretly slips her little notebook with the entire time travel story into Jim-101’s pocket before he leaves. Jim-101 leaps into the wormhole and goes back by one week, but to an alternate timeline-102.
Events of timeline-102 with Jim-101 and Jim-102
Note: In the film, Chuck-102 refers to Jim-102 as Jim Prime.
Jim-101 arrives, leaves the Dahlia, and runs out and meets Abby-102. After that, she meets Jim-102, confused.
Abby-102 and Jim-102 join Klaus-102 and his wife for dinner, where Abby-102 helps convince Klaus-102 to invest in that second M.R.D (not shown in the film).
Jim-101 meets Chuck-102 and Matt-102 and asks them to call Jim-102 and tell him to not trust the girl. They do.
Jim-101 hides as Jim-102 shows up and faints. Jim-101 goes over to Abby-102 and sleeps with her. In the morning, Jim-101 and Jim-102 talk over the intercom. Abby-102 runs into Jim-102 at the entrance and takes him for breakfast.
Jim-101 watches on as Jim-102 makes out with Abby-102. Chuck-102 shows up, talks to Jim-101 and tries to explain how using time travel to fix his relationship status is so messed up. When Jim-102 leaves, Jim-101 goes over to Abby-102’s place and confronts her. Abby-102 discloses she was only working on a science fiction novel. Jim-101’s condition becomes fatal because he’s in a timeline with another Jim, Jim-102.
Jim-102 gets screwed over by Klaus-102 for 99% ownership of his research (now shown).
Jim-101 shows up at the door with the Dahlia and tells Abby-102 to choose if she will come alone or with Klaus on the day of the second demo. Jim-102 assumes that she is with Klaus. Realizing that she was being manipulated by a future Jim, she asks Chuck-102 and Jim-101 to get out. From Abby-102’s perspective, the man she fell in love with was Jim-102, but Jim-101 secretly entered her life.
Jim-101 convinces Chuck-102 and Matt-102 to activate the machine earlier so he can jump back and stop any of this from happening. Matt-102’s goof-up causes the jump to fail. This hurls Jim-101 to an alternate timeline, timeline-103.
Timeline-103 and its events with multiple Jims
While Jim-101 might have not travelled through time, he has exited in a new timeline. Let’s recap. The first time through the machine, Jim-101 travelled back in time by a week and reached a new timeline, timeline-102. The second time through the wormhole, thanks to the goof-up, Jim-101 has arrived in timeline-103, but at the same instant he left timeline-102.
Notice how Chuck-103, who walks out, asks, “You’re still chasing after her, huh?”. In timeline-103, Jim-101 is meeting Chuck-103, who has already met so many Jims that he doesn’t know who is who. All Chuck-103 knows is that Jim is chasing Abby through time and space.
Jim-101 is destined to die in this reality, and Chuck-103 takes Jim-101 out for dinner.
Abby-103 decides to sleep with Klaus-103 to get an extra M.R.D. She hopes that once Jim-103 leaves the timeline, Jim-101 will survive (as he would be the only consciousness of Jim remaining), and the two can be happy together.
Jim-101 decides to leave town and check into a hotel, hoping his distance from Jim-103 will keep him alive longer. But on reaching the hotel, he realizes that another Jim, Jim-??? is already checked in and dead in the room.
Who is this dead Jim (Jim-???) at the fancy hotel?
Remember I mentioned that Matt’s goof-up ripped open spacetime badly? Here’s one of the results we’re seeing. It appears that Jims from multiple parallel timelines have been jumping across. We don’t know when Jim-??? made his entry into timeline-103. But he seems to have tried his best to survive and finally checked into a room. It didn’t turn out well for Jim-??? and he died in that room. We don’t know much about Jim-???’s path and how much he interacted with Chuck-103, Matt-103 and Abby-103 in this timeline-103. In fact, we don’t know a lot about timeline-103 at all.
The day of the demo arrives, and Abby-103 comes with Klaus-103 and the Dahlia. She stays cold to make sure Jim-103 jumps into the wormhole. She secretly slips her little notebook with the entire time travel story into Jim-103’s pocket before he leaves. Jim-103 leaps into the wormhole and goes back by one week, but to an alternate timeline-201.
Abby-103 goes back to meet Jim-101, but it is too late, he is already dead, and she cries by his bedside.
Synchronicity Movie Ending Explained: Timeline-201
The ending of the movie Synchronicity reveals that Jim-103 has arrived in a timeline where his alter ego went by the name John who died in a lab accident. Since Jim-103 is the only instance of his consciousness, he is healthy and meets Abby-201, which appears to be the beginning of a happy relationship.
What’s with the number 201? Let’s take a step back.
Jim-103 exits his timeline-103 to go back in time but enters a far different timeline from the ones we’ve seen, which is why I’m calling this one timeline-201. In this reality, Jim Beale was born as John Bane. Not just this one, but there would be plenty of timelines where Jim was born as John, we’re seeing only one of them. John-201 happens to have died in a lab explosion after opening the receiving end of the wormhole. Soon as Jim-103 exits, he finds the diary in his pocket – something that didn’t happen with Jim-100, Jim-101 or Jim-102. This causes him to be distracted and doesn’t run into Abby-201 just outside the building.
How did John Bane die?
Rewind back to the opening scene after the first failure run when Chuck-101 says, “Maybe it was visitors from the future who came back to destroy our project because it eventually leads to some distant apocalypse”. We don’t know for sure if Jim-103 read the diary and realized that the only way he could survive was if the time machine was destroyed. And in that process, he inadvertently kills John-201. This theory is a little dark and removes a lot of the “happy” from that happy ending we’re shown for Jim-103.
Here’s what I think. Outside the lab, Abby-201 neither runs into Jim-103 nor John-201. How do we know this? In the final scene, when Jim-103 meets Abby-201 at the diner, she doesn’t recognize him. This would also mean that Abby-201 was not around to help convince Klaus-201 and his wife at dinner. John-201 would have been left without an M.R.D, and he probably used an unsafe alternative to run his experiment, which caused the explosion in the lab, killing him.
With John-201 dead, Jim-103 is the only consciousness left in this timeline-201, so he’s not dying. Jim-103 meets Abby-201, who is seeing him for the first time. Abby-201 is a big fan of John-201 and his work and is writing a science-fiction novel based on him. She observes that Jim-103 resembles John Bane and tells him that John-201 died in a lab accident. It’s clear that Jim-103 already knows this, and he offers Abby-201 a drink.
The end tells us that there would be many timelines where Jim was born John and dies in a lab accident. In all these universes, if a Jim arrives, he would be safe. On the other hand, if Jim arrives in a timeline where Jim is alive, his fate is to die alone. So depending on which timeline Jim lands in, he either dies or survives.
And there you have it, the Synchronicity plot and ending explained. What did you think of the film? Do leave your thoughts and theories in the comments section below.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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