Review: 'Naked Singularity' collapses on itself
Courtesy of Screen Media
A coagulation of several different genres mashed into one incoherent package, Chase Palmer’s stylish, but empty sci-fi lawyer caper “Naked Singularity” tries to have its cake and eat it too. Led by a killer ensemble-John Boyega, Olivia Cooke, Ed Skrein, Tim Blake Nelson, and Bill Skarsgard-Palmer’s trippy voyage, based on the novel of the same name by Sergio De La Pava, is stunted under the weight of its twisty loopholes.
Told with the urgency of snail, despite a ticking countdown of the “collapse” (what that is, even after watching the film, is still hard to comprehend) looming in the bottom half of the screen, one of the primary plots of “Naked Singularity” gets moving with ardent, fast-talking public defender Casi (Boyega) trying his best to reform a broken justice system. He spars frequently with a harsh circuit judge (Linda Lavin), but she’s a brick wall who doesn’t put up with snappy zingers or quips. On the other side of the system, is a narrative based in alternative realities and drug escapades.
Enter Lea (Cooke), a parolee working for the local impound lot who stumbles upon some cocaine stashed abroad one of her seized Lincoln Navigators. She links up with sleazy drug dealer Craig (Skrein) to fence the haul, but their relationship is undercooked to the point of no return. Throwaway conversations about Mexican cartels (the cocaine is theirs) and crummy dialogue that doesn’t move the plot so much as stall it, suggests “Naked Singularity” is hiding something under the hood. Instead, it’s just a bad movie.
Eventually Lea and Casi connect in the midst of the chaos (during which Casi pulls out all the stops, including a samurai sword), but most of their interactions and the journey to mount any satisfying conclusion are dead on arrival. The script riddles itself with one dimensional character arcs and Boyega, thanks to works like Steve McQueen’s “Red, White, and Blue,” is working overtime to shed that “Star Wars” image, but he struggles to stitch the film's wonkier elements together.
There’s some cool ideas in regards to the seismic unraveling of space and time, all told by Nelson’s Angus, a stoner written for the sole purpose of providing exposition, except Palmer isn’t interested in exploring this world shattering event, he’d rather throw characters into tense, confusing situations and hope for the best. By the time we reach the credits (and watched the world’s flimsiest heist sequence involving the aforementioned Lincoln Navigator and the random Cartel members who show up for literally no reason) you’ve forgotten Casi was a lawyer fighting for injustice and Lea was on her last stop before prison. Trying to connect the dots isn’t a top priority in “Naked Singularity,” an ambitious misstep that runs out of oxygen long before the finish line.
NAKED SINGULARITY is now playing in select theaters and will be available on demand Friday, August 13th.