No one can say precisely how many ways we can travel or distort time at the movies, but here’s a brand new idea with this 2023 movie, 57 Seconds.
What was already an important day for our protagonist, writer/blogger Franklin Fox, becomes a pivotal turning point when he attends the convention of Anton Burrell, billionaire, health and high-tech guru.
The enterprising young man pretends to be one of many service workers at the event and infiltrates behind the scenes, only for Burrell himself to discover him immediately.
However, the millionaire will be glad he met him because soon after, Franklin saves him from an attacker who tries to kill him onstage.
After the attack, he finds a strange ring with a black stone set in it on the floor, and upon brushing it with his fingers, he discovers that he can go back in time for exactly 57 Seconds.
This magnificent artifact opens up a world of new opportunities for him and also helps woo the attractive Jala, whom he met on the same day.
Besides money and girls, Franklin‘s ultimate objective, however, is to destroy the business and reputation of Sig Thorenson, the arrogant and domineering proprietor of a large pharmaceutical company.
Indeed, many years earlier, his sister had become addicted to a drug produced by this corporation, ending up dying as, unfortunately, did many other people like her.
Thanks to the magic ring, Franklin attracts the attention of his two essential caretakers, tough bodyguard Calvert and shrewd businesswoman Renee Renzler.
Thus, he gets into Thorenson‘s inner circle while the latter is constantly watching him, trying to understand how he can know things in advance in a game where it becomes only a matter of time before one can fool the other first.
No one appreciates simple, fun entertainment anymore?
Director Rusty Cundieff focuses on irony and easy emotions without lapsing into excessive banality, but instead always maintaining a fair amount of interest in the relationships between the characters and the plot’s progress.
Indeed, although technically 57 Seconds is a sci-fi movie, it is a 2023 comedy that relies entirely on the likability of lead actor Josh Hutcherson, whom I had already greatly enjoyed in the hilarious time travel series Future Man.
So, we don’t view a massive amount of special effects, as we mainly handle the time-traveling clock trick with ironic montage cuts.
Of course, the idea is not new, as is often the case in the saturated science fiction genre, where stories of time travel, the prescience of the future, or technologies for seeing into the past, such as the entertaining Déjà Vu with Denzel Washington abound.
Closer to this movie, I reminded Next, a solid action movie inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story and starring the usually indefatigable Nicolas Cage, who precisely could anticipate other characters’ moves because of his ability to see 2 minutes into the future.
Perhaps the main guy is a little too gentle and boy scout-like in this case; still, he is well balanced by a genuine adversary like Greg Germann and the usually outstanding Morgan Freeman, even though his screen time is minimal.
Once again, as is often the case with me, I want to say that this is in no way perfect or original, but it is an efficient hour and a half of entertainment that, unfortunately, I see a lot of people slaughtering for no real reason.
But why is it that many, too many people, no longer seem to appreciate wholesome, simple entertainment by dividing cinema between masterpieces and crap, with no middle ground?
57 seconds second to no one
As mentioned, much of the story rests on the shoulders of Josh Hutcherson, who is practically present in practically every scene of the movie and essentially always together with Lovie Simone, a cute and likable co-star who keeps time with this character’s humor and quick quips.
Of course, we are always talking about a very family-friendly comedy, suitable for the whole family, inserted inside a plot that excitingly criticizes multinational health corporations at times, but without ever hitting too hard and always staying on the generic side.
Again, I repeat, the focus is on entertainment and light fun, and in this sense, the Hutcherson/Simone pair puts on a flowing rom-com embedded in the time repetitions caused, intentionally or not, by the magic/technological ring at the base of it all.
The team of villains headed by Greg Germann, a likable bastard without an ounce of conscience whom we quickly learn to detest from the first few seconds, is much funnier and more original.
Of course, the display of so much power and money should bother me, yet I can’t explain why exactly, but he was the character I grew most fond of, almost sincerely feeling sorry for all the people like him in the real world, so detached that they feel nothing for anything, no matter how many nice things they might buy.
Perhaps a few minutes could have been taken away from the main character to delve more deeply into Germann’s two henchmen, the sexy Bevin Bru and the tough Sammi Rotibi, who instead remain just generic bad guys on the side with no real personality.
Fortunately, filling in any gaps always comes Morgan Freeman, who, as usual, inspires audiences with his charismatic and talented performances, playing a “good billionaire” who cares about humankind’s future for once.