2067: In These Trying Times, by Chase Beck
2067 tells the tale of a toxic future where the sky is covered with noxious clouds and oxygen is in limited supply. The opening shot is of a planet, our planet, wreathed in poisonous fumes. One by one, entire nations go dark as their populaces breathe their last collective breath. Finally, we are left with an Earth where only a few survive by clinging to whatever clean air they can obtain; whether through hard work, ingenuity, or taking it by force. In 2067, oxygen is in limited supply and companies grow rich by manufacturing synthetic forms of the life-giving gas. Looking at the number of natural disasters occuring around the world at the time that I am writing this, it is no challenge to imagine the sci-fi future of 2067 becoming our reality.
Kodi Smitt-McPhee plays Ethan Whyte, whom we meet as he is working in a tunnel, deep below the surface, to keep an aging power system functioning. His friend and co-worker, Jude Mathers is by his side. They have a bond and deep respect that comes from working side-by-side for years. The look of the 2067, from crowded alleys crisscrossed with electrical and communication wires to flying cars to masked individuals, draws heavily from previous films that set out to depict dystopian futures.
But in 2067 we see a future where the classes are defined by the quality of their breathing equipment. Those who get by are outfitted with full-face masks, supplied with their own separate canister of air. Those who are poor and struggling are forced to sport simple air filters, hoping to siphon out enough toxins without depriving themselves of precious oxygen, which has only limited availability
The world-building is detailed and immersive. However, the film’s limited budget is immediately apparent. Instead of a sprawling derelict city, we are presented almost exclusively to nondescript concrete walls, lines of chain link fence, barrel fires and stereotypical transients.
We soon find out that Ethan is the last hope for humanity. An emergency broadcast from 400 years in the future has simply said, “SEND ETHAN WHYTE.” Thankfully, there exists a device capable of doing just that, the “Hail Mary”, which boasts the ability to slingshot one person into the future. Quickly recruited by the Chronical Project, Ethan must say goodbye to those he loves to venture into the distant future in the hope that there they might have a cure for the illness plaguing the people and the planet.
2067 almost feels like a film made during, and informed by, the 2020 Coronavirus lockdown. The all Australian cast, small sets with limited extras, a story centered around caustic clouds of death and involving personalized breathing apparatuses; even if the screenwriting and filming took place before the WHO declared that our planet was in the middle of a global pandemic, 2067 seems guided by the reality of what has become “the new normal.”
This is a time travel film and therefore Ethan and company must contend with the question of whether they are in control of their fates or slaves to it. The film manages this in a satisfactory, although not always interesting, way for most of its 114 minute running length.
2067 is at times baffling but in the end it delivers a satisfactory, although not altogether exhilarating, experience. At times you can see the strings being pulled and feel the not-so-subtle attempt at manipulation by writer/director, Seth Laney. Regardless, it is a delight to see media that speaks the reality of a post-COVID world and interprets it through the lens of science fiction.