Time travel is a concept that we often see now in films from various genres. It has even made its way into the superhero genre as seen in Endgame. We have also seen the said idea or construct in multiple film genres from comedy in films such as Hot Tub Time Machine to full-on sci-fi shows with classics such as the Back to the Future franchise. It’s a complicated concept to tackle due to some slight scientific altercations that it may have but in the end what matters is how these individual films chose to create and build the world and concept within their own story. The most recent Netflix film that boldly aims to embrace such a topic comes in the form of a Shawn Levy film with blockbuster star, Ryan Reynolds which is entitled The Adam Project.
The Adam Project Brief Overview
The Adam Project centers on Adam Reed both in his 2020 and 2050 versions played by Walker Scobell and Ryan Reynolds respectively. In the year 2050, time travel exists amidst the dystopian and chaotic world where Reed escapes from to find his wife Laura, played by Zoe Saldana. Due to a slight altercation with greedy and powerful rulers, Reed lands in the year 2020 where he encounters his 12-year-old self. The two Reeds must unite to uncover the dark truths that engulf the future in order to hopefully alter it for the better. The adventures that the two take on together are just exhilarating as they are faced with futuristic soldiers, a somewhat evil oligarch scientist, and the past, present, and future personal relationships that they have which have a huge impact on their life.
The Adam Project Review Spoiler Warnings
We were curious as to how this film would tackle such themes and concepts just from watching the trailers alone. When you add the stellar cast of big names in the film industry — we were instantly hooked. We checked out the film in its entirety as soon as it was released and in this review, we will tackle the somewhat familiar nature of the film, its execution and standing as a time travel sci-fi flick, and the emotional weight that it delivers which is a different direction in itself for a film in the said genre. We will keep this review, for the most part, spoiler-free but a few points and discussion may border on becoming a tad bit on the spoiler-y side.
Same Old Same Old
Upon watching The Adam Project, there is one overarching impression that the movie sadly left for me — an overwhelming sense of deja vu. The Adam Project doesn’t bring anything new to the table as a science fiction film nor does it try to steer Reynolds away from the usual depiction that we receive from the actor. Let’s start off with the film as a sci-fi movie. This movie sadly takes every element of the said concept of time travel to the point of bringing in a somewhat bland approach. While the overall direction and tonality of the film aim to present more emotional weight to the concept, it doesn’t really do much for The Adam Project to become a memorable spectacle of a film. The sci-fi elements aim to showcase proficiency in special effects and a setting of grandeur but in the end, still fail to hit the mark.
There isn’t much world-building that occurs either, as everything seems to be implied rather than shown. The only true peek that we get into the future comes in the form of the laser guns, a time-traveling ship, and what seems to be a rip-off of a lightsaber. Even the costume designs scream for more authenticity and spectacle that point to either an after-thought in the making process or worse a lack of budget. It is far from a low-budgeted film by the looks of it but at the same time, it seems that some scenes such as a short and underwhelming car and spacecraft chase were more of the priority for the filmmakers. As mentioned the film didn’t add much to the sci-fi genre as typical tropes were added which in turn made it feel flat compared to other films that tackle the same concept.
The sense of the familiar also comes in the form of the lead actor Ryan Reynolds. I honestly have nothing wrong with the actor, but it has come to a point that his humor, style in acting, and even choices of roles all feel one-dimensional. There isn’t anything all too new with Ryan Reynolds that we get in this film from his roles in Free Guy, Red Notice, and even Dead Pool. There may be some moments that he taps into a more serious persona in this role but even then it becomes difficult to truly take him seriously. The sarcastic humor that Reynolds is known for is still evident here and in doing so doesn’t bring anything new to the table as well. I personally would love to see another side to the actor while still not diverting to who he truly is. This is where the sense of deja vu kicks in as this film seems to be just another run-of-the-mill B-grade sci-fi Ryan Reynolds flick — one that I swear I have seen a resemblance of before.
The Time Travel Loop(Hole)
Movies that focus on time travel usually portray unique parameters that clearly establish the repercussions and limitations of the said concept. This film mentions such repercussions time and time again but it’s left at that. A mere mention. This causes several plot holes to occur that would leave any viewer confused with the true nature of the film’s ending. This is where the story lacks a clear foundation as to the parameters of time travel which again can be attributed to the lack of world-building. The aftereffects should be clearly established in movies like these but it appeared as if the filmmakers were purposely avoiding the topic through pop culture references and puns out of fear of creating any loopholes that it eventually did just that. The ending was therefore a confusing mess that was vague and was up to the viewer’s own interpretation. These interpretations however would lead up once again to a multitude of plot holes and inconsistencies.
The film however for the most part has a very exciting story despite its loopholes. The adventure aspect of a time-traveling-related story is still very much exhilarating to experience. There are scenes and set designs that are exciting to witness despite being limited nonetheless. These take our minds off the lack of definitive explanations to the central concepts that are tackled and so when these loopholes do arrive, we are at least treated to an exciting ride.
The Emotional Side of Time Travel
The one thing I do commend this film for is its bold take to touch on the emotional side of time travel. There are the themes of relational restoration that are tackled here and the growth of people when they truly embrace every aspect of who they are – past, present, and future. This is where the plot actually succeeds in, as it gives a deeper and more meaningful picture into this sci-fi idea. There is a richness and emotional heftiness that The Adam Project touches on that hasn’t really been the full-on direction of movies in the same genre. The emotional weight admittedly wasn’t achieved fully up until the latter parts of the film but it does still do the job. It may not be a tear-jerking kind of experience but still one that will tug onto anyone’s heartstrings as a personal introspective moment.
This emotional ride that The Adam Project takes us is due to the two versions of Adam — Ryan Reynolds and his younger version played by Walker Scobell. This may be the redeeming factor for Reynold as he absolutely nails the on-screen chemistry with this kid. They complement each other well and give great performances for the same character. The acting chops of Scobell may be the highlight in this film as well due to the ability to stand toe-to-toe with Reynold and the ability to exhibit somewhat the same humor as the veteran actor. It felt at times as if I was truly watching the younger and older version of Ryan Reynolds which points to the amazing acting abilities and casting choices. Overall these two even brought it home not just in terms of humor but also in the emotional scenes that truly made the film worthwhile to see nonetheless.
This tandem together with a nostalgic pairing from Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner, however, didn’t spare us from performances that weren’t at all appealing. I’m referring to the main villain in the story which was portrayed by Catherine Keener. We are given a very underwhelming and underdeveloped character whose demise was the best part of the film as we finally say goodbye to terrible acting and CGI de-aging effects. This was a move that had me baffled as the film could have done infinitely better if a truly devastating villain was at its core — one that you’d love to truly hate. Instead, we are given a character who is bland as her intentions. It’s a plain and simple motive that drives the villain Sorian, which didn’t really help to propel the film to greater heights.
The Adam Project Review Final Verdict
The Adam Project has its moments but in the end suffers greatly due to its plot holes, unoriginality, and some of its casting and editing choices. It is a film that is sadly forgettable. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table as a sci-fi film. Despite being an exhilarating ride for the first half and an emotional gut-wrenching experience for the other, it just aims in becoming entertaining while completely leaving out a ton of explanation in both parts. Whether it was intentional or not, the plot has just become disjointed through and through. This is why we give this film a Hype Meter rating of 5 out of 10.
I honestly believe that it’s not worth the time to see unless the point is to simply kill time. Even though don’t expect to be blown away by its story and just enjoy Reynolds and a little kid destroying a couple of futuristic baddies while completely overlooking the plot’s substantial points on time travel which unfortunately doesn’t really exist in The Adam Project.
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