Found in Time

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 02/12/13 23:46:32

"Collects some good bits, has a little trouble weaving them."
3 stars (Just Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2013 BOSTON SCI-FI FEST: A tricky thing for a science fiction story to do is to build its world and story without spending any time explaining it to the characters who, living in it, don't need the explanation. Add a changing timeline to the mix, and you're really asking for trouble. As a result, it's very impressive that "Found in Time" works as well as it does, though it's still often on the confusing side.

Things start out with Chris (MacLeod Andrews), a "collector" whose psi abilities generally allow him to find things that people he meets later will want. His consciousness jumping forward and backward in time is a side-effect, and his meds are starting to be ineffective. His girlfriend Jina (Kelly Sullivan) recommends he see one of her therapist colleagues (Eric Martin Brown), while one of her patients, a "weaver" named Ayana (Mina Vesper Gokal) winds up working the same corner when Chris sells the things he finds and his friend RJ (Derek Morgan) sells unusually-infused coffee.

Writer/director Arthur Vincie has created an interesting alternate or near-future world without tarting it up in a lot of obvious trappings; it mostly seems different from ours at the edges, where abilities like Chris, Ayana, and RJ have are known but not mainstream. None of these abilities are the sort you need to spend any money to depict most of the time, and that works for this movie; while "The Mine" that the psi-cops threaten the vendors with looks slapped together, it looks like the alternate world's government went cheap, not the filmmakers.

For all the interesting, subtle world-building going on, the exact nature of the story can remain frustratingly elusive. Chris is having trouble getting the nerve up to propose to Jina; a murder may happen, in one form or another; and there's apparently some worry about the way Chris's and Ayana's abilities will interact. There's a couple sentences worth of apocalyptic talk on the subject of time unraveling, but Vincie tends to focus more on the personal stakes for Chris - betrayal, guilt, imprisonment, romance. Past, present, and future prove malleable around him, and it's fairly impressive that Vincie is able to keep the confusion under control so that the audience is able to sympathize and catch up with Chris rather than spend all its time trying to puzzle out just what is going on.

MacLeod Andrews does his part to help the audience there as well; as much as his performance may fray just a bit at the extremes - looking blank is harder than it looks, as is psychic agony - he's convincing during the bulk of the movie as a guy trying to handle things and live the best life he can in this situation. He's got nice chemistry with Kelly Sullivan, who does a very nice girlfriend but trips up a bit on technobabble. Mina Vesper Gokal complements him well, seeming stable where he's steady and vice versa. Derek Morgan, Eric Martin Brown, and Mollie O'Mara & Curt Bouril (as a pair of psy-cop "trawlers") are all solid in the small roles where low-budget sci-fi movies often skimp on.

In some ways, that solidity might keep "Found in Time" from being the cult film that its plot might suggest: It's not going for the freak-out or mind-blow, and its executed too well to be laughed at. It's a neat little puzzle-box of a movie, though, and certainly seems well-done enough to survive a second viewing.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.