| August 16, 2017

Connor Hughes (Daniel Bonjour) is obsessed with his work trying to crack time travel, which means he often misses dates with his long-term girlfriend April (Anne Clare Lush).  By the time Connor gets his act together and decides he needs to make April more of a priority, it’s too late and she’s killed in a car accident.  A year later, Connor’s lab partner Jonas (Jerry Hoffman) has all but finished their time machine, keeping it hidden from the government agency that shut them down in the first place, and needs Connor to help finish it, who decides to use the machine to save April and get his life back.

There’s a line in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that I think sums up the play perfectly.  The Friar, when meeting with Romeo early in the play casually yells at him while he runs out of the room that “they stumble who run fast.”  You then watch a play full of characters who leap into things without thinking and suffer disastrous consequences, and never quite learn from those mistakes until it’s too late and everyone’s dead.  Fate begins with Connor teaching his physics class and catching a girl reading Romeo and Juliet to study for her lit exam in the next class.  He then goes on to compare the cold hard truth of science to the mysterious concept of human love.  In the next scene, frustrated with not being able to make a breakthrough in time travel, he threatens to up the power, but is warned by Jonas to not push it or the results could be disastrous.  A moment later a government agent overseeing the project asks what would happen if all the equipment was suddenly shut down and Jonas tells him that everything would be lost.

I thought the film was setting up this theme of rushing into things without really thinking them through and that was exciting to me, but unfortunately that idea dies with April a few scenes later as Connor sits around depressed for a year before Jonas reconnects and shows him what he’s been working on.  Apparently the idea of finishing the machine to save April never occurred to him until that point.  Once the time machine is finished, time travel rules are introduced to convolute things.  Connor can only be in the past for an hour, which is actually 58 minutes because it takes a minute to get to the past and a minute to get back to the present.  Every time Connor goes back it erases his previous jump for some reason.  At one point Connor has the idea to tell April she’s going to die and try to leap her past her point of death but according to the rules she should just stay in the future for an hour before going back to her time, and would probably die at her destined time anyway.

It’s all very weird, but like with most time travel movies, I do enjoy thinking about how the rules work, and nothing directly contradicts itself so I’m on board.  It just feels needlessly complicated in ways that are not thematically relevant.  In the end, Fate is ambitious film that is capably made with a good script and good actors.


About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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