57 Seconds (2023) Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 2, 2023
57 Seconds (2023) Review


Josh Hutcherson and Morgan Freeman pick up an easy check in an often very stupid sci-fi B-movie that nonetheless offers some fun if you’re in the right mood.

57 Seconds is the title of a 2023 sci-fi straight-to-digital B-movie starring Josh Hutcherson and Morgan Freeman, of all people, but it’s also roughly how long it takes to realize that you’ve seen it all before. Here’s a movie about time travel that feels like a whistlestop tour of every previous movie about time travel ever made, though one doesn’t imagine the irony is intentional.

Let me be the first to tell you that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that bad. I can see why a prestige actor like Freeman wouldn’t be too embarrassed to pocket the check for a half-baked role he could play in his sleep. It is derivative, though, and sometimes very stupid, so mileage may vary.

57 Seconds review and plot summary

Hutcherson – known, primarily, for The Hunger Games – plays Franklin Fox, a blogger who journals on the intersection of technology and health while secretly writing scathing takedowns on Big Pharma under the alias “Remedy”. Franklin has a bee in his bonnet about highly addictive opiates for reasons I won’t lay out here but that you can probably guess, and suffice it to say, pharmaceutical moguls like Sig Thorenson (Greg Germann) aren’t his favorite.

Tech CEOs like Anton Burrell (Freeman) are right up his alley, though. Burrell heads Sci-Trinity, a wellness brand that primarily peddles wearable bracelets called Tri-Bands, which remind people to work out and tell them what to eat. Franklin admires him so much that he gets a one-day job as a lackey during one of Burrell’s Apple-style product unveilings just so he can sneak into the presentation in the hopes of securing an interview.

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After saving Burrell’s life during an assassination attempt, Franklin stumbles on a ring that he quickly discovers allows him to rewind time exactly 57 seconds. He uses it to seduce Jala (Lovie Simone), a woman he met working the same event, and then to rip off casinos. After an impromptu meeting with Calvert (Sammi Rotibi), Thorenson’s right-hand man, he realizes he can also use it to secure a job with his nemesis and ultimately expose his corruption.

The 57-second thing is the movie’s primary selling point and the gimmick it gets the most out of. It’s a child-friendly form of time travel that doesn’t need much explaining and doesn’t have enough scope to cause Macon Blair and director Rusty Cundieff (who wrote the script from a story by E.C. Tubb) any paradoxical problems.

It’s also responsible for at least two of the best moments – Franklin’s initial seduction of Jala, which is played for laughs but is probably a little creepy in hindsight, and a set-piece involving the extraction of a safe code that Hutcherson is great in.

The big problem is that the movie has more ideas than it has runtime to explore them. Why 57 seconds exactly? Burrell travels with what I’m pretty sure is a robot, which nobody ever brings up, and his presentation of the latest Tri-Band 5 strongly suggests an element of mind control that is never really questioned or explained. And he’s technically a good guy!

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The critique of Big Pharma is also somewhat undermined by making Thorenson a hilariously overdone cartoon villain who not only knew he was pushing highly addictive painkillers to market but also keeps half-naked, clearly strung-out women in his mansion whom he summons by whistling.

This, though, is less of a concern than basic matters of logic which undermine several plot points and character decisions. One gets the sense the script didn’t go through too many revisions, or someone would have noticed how ridiculously obvious Franklin makes his use of the ring, essentially presenting himself as a mind-reading savant to blend in and not raise the suspicions of his new employers – so, essentially the opposite of the sensible approach.

Is 57 Seconds worth watching?

Quibbles aside, though, there is a basic level of entertainment to be found in 57 Seconds.

It’s good fun watching Morgan Freeman play a charismatic Steve Jobs with his innate level of avuncular gravitas, Hutcherson has a kind of frazzled appeal, the soundtrack is cool, and as mentioned, a couple of the cleverer sequences involving the ring are a blast.

You’ll see the twists explaining its origins and utility coming a mile away, but the movie passes a vibe check overall.

What did you think of 57 Seconds (2023)? Comment below.

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