The tortured melodrama “Destined” has a peculiar way with the road-not-traveled scenario that “Sliding Doors” deployed to similarly underwhelming effect. A Detroit projects kid’s brief mix-up with drug dealers jumps forward and splits into two parallel narratives, one in which a grown Rasheed (Cory Hardrict) is a pusher kingpin on the verge of an empire-securing deal, and another that sees him as a conscience-minded architect hoping to renovate his old ’hood.
But in writer-director Qasim Basir’s strained attempt to keep the same constellation of characters in his twin tales, would a female reporter (Zulay Henao) in one be a jealous gangster squeeze in the other? Would the cop (Jesse Metcalfe) hunting down criminal ’Sheed have a completely different career path — corrupt developer — in the other? Do life’s ripples really work that way?
While your brain tries to wrap around that element of the fantasy, Basir flubs his big point about fate, choices and paths — that no matter our lives, we face the chance to change for good or bad — by embracing all the clichés he can find, then filming them without nuance or style.
You wish that the drug dealer timeline had been scrapped entirely so that the thornier story of Rasheed chipping away at his integrity to fuel his ambition could have been more fully explored, since Hardrict carries an appealing gravity. Unfortunately, the only “what if?” that “Destined” inspires is, what if it had been so much better?
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood