Fred Fitzell (Dylan O’Brien) is balancing a new corporate job, a long-term girlfriend (Hannah Gross) and an ailing mother as he transitions to adulthood. A chance encounter with a man from his youth sends him on an unexpected journey into his past via a series of terrifying flashbacks. Centered around a drug called Mercury, that Fred took when he was younger, the flashbacks bring his past, present and future together as he tries to piece together his recollections before his mind unravels.
‘Flashback’ is a high-concept sci-fi thriller from writer/director Christopher MacBride. At the heart of it is the mystery surrounding a girl called Cindy (Maika Monroe), who Fred and his friends knew from their school days but haven’t seen since a Mercury-fuelled night, that Fred has long-suppressed from his memory. Through the flashbacks we see Fred transform from a model student to a lost teenager led astray by the circles he mixes in, with Mercury becoming their downfall.
If linear storytelling is your things, then ‘Flashback’ won’t be for you. As confused as Fred is trying to understand his flashbacks, the viewer will be baffled as the narrative jumps all over the place and MacBride explores the idea that time may well be nothing more than a human construct. It becomes increasingly hard to understand what is real and what isn’t, and you can rely on what you’re seeing as evidence either way. The problem is that the narrative becomes so complex, it’s likely to alienate the audience with the exception of those who like to work really hard to unravel a plot.
The cast is strong even when the film becomes too baffling to keep up with. Dylan O’Brien, best-known for ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘The Maze Runner’ franchise, continues to prove himself as a talented young actor. He’s not quite found the big break he deserves yet, that will take him from teenage star to adult star, but his tendency to tackle a range of material definitely works to his advantage. As Fred, he just about keeps you with him throughout the film, giving a layered and intriguing performance. Maika Monroe is strong too as Cindy, the girl the mystery revolves around.
‘Flashback’ has a good idea in the mix somewhere but it gets lost once the film becomes overly complicated. The flashbacks serve to help the audience understand who Fred is and they draw parallels between his past and present life, but they don’t culminate into something that feels worthy of your time. Regardless of my criticism though, ‘Flashback’ succeeds in being completely unpredictable and that should be commended in an industry where mainstream movies tend to be remakes and rehashes.
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Maika Monroe, Amanda Brugel, Hannah Gross, Keir Gilchrist, Emory Cohen Director: Christopher MacBride Writer: Christopher MacBride Certificate: 15 Duration: 97 mins Released by: Vertigo Releasing Release date: 4th June 2021 Buy ‘Flashback’ now