The Adam Project, On Netflix, Is Simple, Goofy Sci-Fi That’s Incredibly Fun To Watch, Film Companion

Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana, Catherine Keener
Cinematographer: 
Tobias A. Schliessler
Editor: 
Jonathan Corn, Dean Zimmerman
Streaming on: Netflix

I remember being unimpressed by Ryan Reynold’s Free Guy promos a year ago. I’ll have to admit, I was wrong – and happy to be proven so. Free Guy was not only a quintessential Reynolds sci-fi action vehicle that was an absolute delight – it was also surprisingly deeper and poignant than it had any right to be.

Two time’s the charm, one figures. With The Adam Project, now streaming on Netflix, Reynolds delivers another fun and surprisingly delightful science-fiction film that knows exactly when to stop. Positioned as a sci-fi action comedy, its premise is intriguing. The idea of how we would react to our past/future selves has been a cornerstone of high-concept sci-fi over the years. What The Adam Project does is give the E.T. and Stranger Things mashup the Ryan Reynolds movie treatment. That’s exactly the popcorn-at-home kind of entertainment you need this week.

In The Adam Project, a twelve-year-old Adam Reed, still coping with the loss of his father, finds himself face-to-face with his future self, played by Reynolds. Time travel has been invented in the future, with rather disastrous societal consequences and future ‘time-pilot’ Adam is here to find his wife, who was lost in time as well. He may also be looking to prevent the future from happening. The duo’s adventures lead to them finding Adam’s future wife Laura (Zoe Saldaña), fighting future cops and corporations, making rather cool time jumps, and finally reuniting with their father Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo) who may have started all of this time-travel hoopla.

As far as the plot goes, The Adam Project is pretty straightforward and interspersed with ‘by-the-numbers’ action set pieces. The world building is sparse, especially when it comes to establishing the ground rules of time-travel, the future dystopian world, and even something as basic as the weaponry being utilised on screen. It also features some of the most godawful CGI de-ageing seen onscreen when it comes to the movie’s main villain, played by Catherine Keener.

The film works because it’s not pretending to be anything  apart from standard sci-fi action. Not every new sci-fi movie needs to turn the genre on its head, or leave you questioning your place in the universe. It’s okay to have fun. The film doesn’t try too hard, stays within what is achievable and knows that it’s not gunning to be the next Interstellar, or Arrival.

What also works are the human moments, which are surprisingly far more entertaining and evocative than the rest of the film. Whether the two Adams are having fun or discussing their trauma, or the future Adam is interacting with his mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner), the human interactions supplement the lack of world building and depth, aided by top-notch performances from Zoe Saldana and Mark Ruffalo. The workable direction, fluid comedy, efficient editing and a limited run-time allow The Adam Project to rise above its flaws, and deliver a fun, engaging and a surprisingly emotional movie. Of course, Reynolds being Reynolds hasn’t gotten old just yet.

The film’s poster has the dumbest descriptor I’ve seen for a while: ‘Time flies”. So expecting something cerebral from the film, is like expecting time travel to become a reality within this decade. However, The Adam Project did leave me with one shower thought. Maybe we can’t use time travel to alter the course of our futures or our past, but it does work as an effective mental health tool.

But hey, I’m just reviewing a Ryan Reynolds Netflix movie here, what do I know?

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