Needle In A Timestack
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Leslie Odom Jr.’s charisma can’t save Needle in a Timestack

Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley taps into the Sci-Fi genre for his sophomore directorial feature in Lionsgate, Needle in a Timestack.  Ridley adapts the short story of the same name by author Robert Silverberg.  Oscar Nominees Leslie Odom Jr. and Cynthia Ervo topline the film, asking if love is in the form of a circle, what lines would you cross to be with your soulmate.

Nick (Leslie Odom, Jr). and Janine (Cynthia Erivo) live in marital bliss until Janine’s ex-husband Tommy (Orlando Bloom) warps time to try to tear them apart using Nick’s college girlfriend (Frieda Pinto). As Nick’s memories and reality disappear, he must decide what he is willing to sacrifice to hold onto — or let go of — everything he loves. Can love endure in a future where time is fluid, and all of life may be just an illusion?

I have been a fan of John Ridley’s writing style since his writings on classic sitcoms Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ridley successfully transitioned to film by co-writing on films such as Three Kings, Undercover Brother, Red Tails, and U-Turn. Ridley’s latest is an exciting piece, given that the director has dipped his foot in various genres in the past. When watching a movie involving time travel, one of the standards I apply is that I never try to overthink the premise.

Ridley begins his film by introducing Cynthia Erivo’s character of Janine speaking into a camera, and I initially thought the film would take a reverse chronology approach, but it does not. Ridley then introduces us to Nick and Jamie’s married life, and soon we see that jaunting, aka time travel is the norm in the near future.  After a harrowing experience, Nick informs his wife that Tommy is attempting to break them up.  

Before long, Tommy’s mischievous deeds due lead to Nick and Janine breaking up. Nick must then spend the rest of the film trying to restore order.  Leslie Odom Jr is fast becoming one of my favorite actors. I felt that he was the best part of The Many Saints of Newark, so I was looking forward to seeing him in a lead role. Odom portrays Nick as a broken man, and I commend the actor for the different stages he portrays the character as he interacts with the various women in his life. 

Odom carries the film well and helps to elevate the material. Sadly, John Ridley’s script is a slow burn that may have trouble finding an audience. While Orlando Bloom portrays our antagonist with just the right of cockiness, the female characters in the film are on simple autopilot. Most surprising is Cynthia Erivo, who never gets a chance to show off her talents.

I also want to point out that you will be disappointed if you are expecting a ton of special effects and action. When the credits rolled on Needle in a Timestack, I found myself saying that was a bit of a letdown given the talent involved with the film.  I hope that Ridley and Odom Jr. can reunite for another project that will utilize their abilities better.


Final Grade: C


Needle in a Timestack is available on digital, video on demand, and in limited theaters today.


In addition, the film will arrive on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on October 19 

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