Reviewed by Adam Donato
Who doesn’t love a good time travel movie? Needle in a Timestack is fortunate enough to be headlined with a pretty solid cast. Leslie Odom Jr. stars as a man who is desperate to maintain his relationship with his wife, but feels threatened by her rich, time traveling ex-husband. Cynthia Erivo and Orlando Bloom star as the wife and ex-husband, despite their limited roles. Famous producer John Ridley is the writer and director for this project. Does this movie have the star power and substance to claim relevance despite its lack of theatrical release?
Leslie Odom Jr. is a solid leading man. Most recently receiving awards nominations for his role in One Night in Miami…, it’s been nice to see him get more roles in projects. His character in this movie is entirely paranoid and deeply depressing, but his performance makes it worthwhile.
As previously stated, Erivo and especially Bloom are brief in this movie despite the plot entirely surrounding their characters. Erivo makes more of an impression as she has good chemistry with Odom Jr. Bloom, on the other hand, it’s just nice to know that he is still around. As the villain, Bloom isn’t very present in the movie, but when he is on screen he does leave an impact.
The plot of the movie is boring and feels drawn out. It’s not surprising to find out this is an adaptation of a short story. It is surprising to find out that it was a short story published to Playboy back in 1983. There's nothing sexier than trying out a new wife for a few weeks. The pacing issue is not detrimental to the individual character arcs, all of which feel fleshed out and satisfying by the end.
The only annoying aspect about the movie is the law of time travel in the movie’s universe. Not how time travel actually works (almost every movie gets that wrong), it’s explained in the movie that time travel is legal, but exorbitantly expensive. It is illegal to change things in the past though. This is maddening because wouldn’t the smallest of actions have the possibility of changing big things? Not to mention that one of the characters goes back in time specifically to change something, does it, and gets away with it like it was nothing. Like no, you went to a legit business and deliberately disobeyed their rules. When you go back to the present and things are very different for you, then it should be clear that the past was changed. There’s no consequence. It’s just weird.
Needle in a Timestack definitely not bad, but it’s also not one that you’d be eager to recommend. It’s a solid time to watch and everything feels wrapped up all nicely. The pacing and plot discrepancies are slightly annoying, but nothing that would prohibit the experience. It’s a cute movie that’s enjoyable enough to watch.
Needle in a Timestack hits theaters and VOD on October 15.