January 26, 2021 – Time travel stories come in many flavors, including those where you can change the past, and those where you can't change the past. This one seems to fall in between those two flavors, taking bitter notes from both.
This story has certain similarities to the old “Monkey's Paw” story (written in 1902 by W.W. Jacobs) where you get your wish, but it always comes with an evil twist.
Brilliant young scientists C.J. Walker (played by Eden Duncan-Smith of “Annie”) and Sebastian Thomas (Danté Crichlow) invent portable time travel machines, and keep this fact a secret. They travel 24 hours into the past, just for fun.
A few days later, C.J's brother, Calvin (played by Astro of “A Walk Among the Tombstones”) is killed by police, who hassle him for something he hasn't done and mistake his cell phone is a gun. This seems to happen to black people more often than it does to white people. C.J. decides to go back in time to save her brother's life.
C.J. and Sebastian end up going back to the day of Calvin's death several times, and every time someone dies a violent death. Sometimes Calvin is saved, and sometimes he isn't. Sometimes Sebastian dies instead of Calvin. C.J's plans never seem to work out right, although the ending of the movie is ambiguous in that regard.
The movie never really stakes out a position on the matter of fate, because in some instances, Calvin's life is saved, but always at the cost of another life. The film portrays time travel in such a way that a time traveler can change the past, which changes the present and future, but not in a way that is positive or satisfying.
So, this movie does not entirely abandon the idea of fate, in that somebody close to C.J. seems fated to die, no matter what she does. Obviously, if one accepts the premise that C.J. can travel into the past and change the past, then the only reason it always turns out tragic is because the screenwriters, Fredrica Bailey and Stefon Bristol want it to come out that way. This is not fate, rather it is arbitrary, at least it is from my white male privilege perspective.
If you are a person who feels that fate has always worked against you, then this film would certainly ring true.
At any rate, this movie has a very attractive cast of talented young actors who go a long way towards making this downbeat story more palatable. It was also a treat to see the most famous time traveler of all in the film, Michael J. Fox (of the “Back to the Future” movies) who has a cameo as a science teacher.
This film appears to be a low-budget movie, but director and co-writer Stefon Bristol gets the most out of his budget. This movie looks slick enough. I'm not sure if this film is available on video disk, but it is available for streaming on Netflix. I found out about it by looking at Rottentomatoes list of top streaming films. This film rates a B.
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