Dylan (Michiel Huisman) likes the stability of life. He sees patterns in everything. It fits perfectly with his air traffic control gig, even when he almost kills 900 people in a nearly botched landing.
On this plane is his new love interest Sarah (Teresa Palmer). They meet at the hilariously-named air ballet “Beginnings,” in which they lock eyes and are brought nearly to tears by their own beauty.
While this insanely expedient love story builds, Dylan starts noticing a pattern in his life that is not easily explained away. At the same time each day, a drop of water drips on him. At the same time each day, a bug dies. At the same time each day, a car crash occurs. At the same time each day, something happens at Grand Central Station.
You get the idea. Dylan has to solve the algorithm, the secret behind the pattern. Too bad it is not a pattern compelling enough to keep an audience engaged for 100 minutes.
The film is a series of coincidences placed into a narrative world by a pair of screenwriters for the sake of…what? There is the mystery of what is happening at Grand Central Station, but it unravels without any real engagement with the audience. There is no real sense of mystery; the story merely unfolds for our…well, pleasure isn’t the word.
The film’s script dictates to us each plot point, verbatim and without subtext. They come out of the dazed, frowning mouth of the wooden Huisman. Or worse: in the monotone voiceover that Huisman gives throughout.
This is without mentioning the baffling line deliveries of Palmer, who is meant to be flush with blossoming love for Dylan but instead comes off frightened just to be seen in this role.
Both are a tepid-chemistry match made in heaven. They speak to each other like children do when pretending to act dramatically. At least Sam Reid’s ever-brooding Jonas is good for some laughs.
There are a few close parallels to 2:22 in the film world. The Number 23 comes to mind. But at least The Number 23 focuses some attention on the paranoia of the obsession with the pattern. Here, Dylan is only confronted once about the possibility that his obsession is based on coincidences. Otherwise, the film trucks along as if everything is both plausible and, in fact, intellectually sound.
Alas, it is not. It is a woven artifice of suspense-devoid “twists” and “turns” in which the answer never really lives up to any expectations anyone could possibly have for it. In fact, it is an answer only given to us when the screenwriters think it is the most jaw-dropping. It is not. It is a mystery that cannot be uncovered, but one that must be passively watched as it unfolds to a narrative end with no narrative satisfaction.
2:22 — BOOM.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)