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Review: You may need AP physics to keep up with mind-bending sci-fi thriller ‘Displacement’

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Writer-director-editor Kenneth Mader’s sci-fi thriller “Displacement” is certainly ambitious. But for anyone unfamiliar with physics or averse to a while-you-watch cram course, this film might prove a mind-numbing slog.

The plot, which may sound more coherent than it plays, involves Cassie (Courtney Hope), a physics student with strange bouts of memory loss — or “time slips” — who must recall a scientific equation she created in order to restore the world’s “time line” and save the life of her boyfriend (Christopher Backus).

The dense, dizzying script flips back and forth in time, oft-repeating key scenes, themes and images, while tossing off such chipper phrases as “probabilistic inertia,” “negation points,” “cryptochrome proteins” and “electrostatic reorientation.” It’s all in the service of reconciling a “quantum entanglement event” and rescuing Cassie — there’s also a second Cassie (don’t ask).

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The attractive Hope works hard to sell the brainy Cassie but, as written, is undermined by her character’s lack of intellectual dimension and contextual credibility.

Ice baths, a gun, bloody vomit, a beachside hotel room and shadowy corporate types factor in as do Cassie’s dying mother (Susan Blakely), estranged physicist father (Lou Richards), helpful (or not?) childhood friend (Karan Oberoi) and a revered professor (Bruce Davison). Their places and purposes, however, like much else here, defy easy interpretation.

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‘Displacement’

Not rated.

Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD

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