57 Seconds is an intriguing collaboration between director/writer Rusty Cundieff, whose 1995 Tales from the Hood is a landmark work in the Black horror subgenre, and co-writer Macon Blair, the multi-hyphenate who broke onto the scene as an actor in 2013’s acclaimed thriller Blue Ruin. The pairing promises more awesomeness than it actually delivers. Parts of the movie are kind of fun, but they get drowned out by a plot that grows increasingly silly.
Franklin Fox (Josh Hutcherson) is a blogger on a mission to bring down Sig Thorenson (Greg Germann), the head of a pharmaceutical company that knowingly put an addictive pain killer on the market – the same one that killed Franklin’s sister. He also wants to interview the Steve Jobs-esque tech guru Anton Burrell (Morgan Freeman). The two do meet and Franklin ends up in the accidental possession of Burrell’s ring. It has a unique property. Pushing it rewinds time by exactly 57 seconds. He uses it to romance coworker Jala (Lovie Simone), then realizes it could come in handy for going after Thorenson.
57 Seconds devises several amusing ways for Franklin to use that ring, including going into a casino, playing roulette, then rewinding so he keeps betting on the winning number. A later scene finds him utilizing the ring to comically extract the code to Thorenson’s safe from an employee. The movie also attempts to delve into the idea that this form of technology could prevent accidents, slip-ups, and unintended consequences, thereby changing the lives of anyone using it. Hutcherson nicely sells the idea that Franklin becomes hooked on the power that’s in his hands.
Stuff like that is fairly enjoyable, but you have to look past an abundance of nonsensical material and excessively far-fetched developments. How does the ring work? An explanation is given, and if anyone can apply logic to it, they deserve a Nobel Prize. Burrell is the inventor of a wrist-worn gizmo called Tri-bands, yet their potential in the story is never taken advantage of. Worst is the finale, which asks us to swallow multiple contrivances that, frankly, are a bridge too far. When you end up chuckling at material that’s supposed to be thrilling, the film is failing.
An appealing cast can’t quite save 57 Seconds from the narrative’s detours into borderline camp. Cundieff and Blair obviously set out to make a picture that’s sleek and exciting. Their premise is decent. It’s just too bad they lacked the power of the ring to rewind time and give the screenplay another polish before filming began.
out of four
57 Seconds is rated R for violence and language. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.