Credit: Screen Media Films
by Matt Lynch Featured Film Genre Views

Naked Singularity | Chase Palmer

August 4, 2021

Naked Singularity is generic as a heist film and barely-conceived as science fiction, leaving almost nothing here to care about.

Just about as unexciting as a heist movie involving the collapse of interdimensional space-time can be, Chase Palmer’s Naked Singularity squanders even the meager promises of its mostly derivative scenario in favor of bland platitudes about both the criminal justice system AND the state of our souls in perpetual entropy. Or something. John Boyega is public defender Casi, who, of course, is devout in service to his clients who are clearly underserved and over-punished by the system. Casi, who has lines of voiceover like “I work for a machine. That is, the US justice system,” comes into frequent conflict with a stern judge improbably named Cymbeline (but played by the inimitable Linda Lavin), who eventually puts him up for a potentially career-killing citation for contempt due to his constant violations of procedure and also for shooting his mouth off to the bench all the time. Salvation — I guess — offers itself in the form of Lea (Olivia Cooke), who works in the police impound garage and has stumbled into a scheme to liberate some cocaine from an SUV in police custody. Each fed up with their respective lots in life for equally nebulous and underarticulated reasons, they decide to team up — along with her sketchy asshole boyfriend (Ed Skrein) and his unscrupulous colleague (Bill Bill Skarsgård) — to get away with the drugs.

What follows is a patently generic bit of heist movie quirk, complete with samurai swords, sinister Hasidim, gas masks, and frequent inconsequential discussions of the behavior of parallel universes. The twin threads of the story — the drug scheme and the sci-fi stuff — never satisfyingly entwine, with the latter feeling mostly like a sophomoric attempt at texture, sort of like Baby Driver if it were about a science geek. The characters’ motivations are almost non-existent, to boot. Why does Casi feel like he needs to get involved in Lea’s harebrained plans? Why is Lea throwing in with a guy she met on Tinder to steal a bunch of coke? Both merely say “I was fed up with my lot in life,” or words to that effect. Boyega is charming enough, and at least his American accent is very good (unlike Bill Skarsgård’s…increasingly it seems that white European men can apparently no longer nail an American accent ), but it’s not enough to solve the equation of just why any of this is happening or why the people involved, much less an audience, should care in the slightest.