A time travel movie that doesn’t get bogged down with the massive can of worms it opened just with the premise alone, The Adam Project is an enjoyable romp through time as long as you focus on Ryan Reynolds playing Ryan Reynolds.
The Adam Project follows Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) as he travels from the dystopian year 2050 that feels closer and closer every single day. His mission? To jump back to the year 2018 and save both his father and the world from the super subtle tech billionaire stand-in Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener).
Great plan. Doesn’t work as he crashes in 2022, conveniently when this movie was shot so that was a neat bit of timing for everyone. Another problem is that he runs into his 2022 self and interacts with him! My god, Doc Brown would be uttering ‘great scotts!’ every second minute of this movie.
That’s not his only problem because older Maya is onto older Adam’s plan and chases him to 2022 to hunt him down like a duck… I mean dog. She tracks Adam to his time in 2022 and is about to terminate him when he’s saved by his long-lost wife Laura (Zoe Saldana).
It turns out Laura escaped an assassination attempt from Maya and has been stranded in 2022 ever since. She persuades Adam and Adam to go back to 2018 to destroy the time travel device his father created and save the future like he’s a less PTSD ridden Kyle Reese.
Both Adams use their last time jump to get back to 2018 and in another chance to break the space-time continuum, try to enlist Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo) to destroy his greatest invention. He pulls a classic ethical scientist and refuses to take part out of concern for the scientific impact on the time stream.
Well, he refuses at first but then ends up changing his mind so he can help the heroes to defeat the villain and save the day blah blah blah happy ending.
And this is where the one major criticism for me comes into play. The movie is as predictable as the concert setlist of Dexys Midnight Runners. There’s nothing new or novel here with this storyline it’s just a standard soft sci-fi time travel story with more modern visual effects.
The characters also aren’t that nuanced or complex in this movie. You got both Adams, played pretty well by Walker Scobell mind you, who play the stock sci-fi time travel protagonists to a tee. The older Adam knows enough about time travel for the plot to work and the younger Adam knows nothing in order to be an audience surrogate, so you aren’t lost because we’re apparently all idiots.
Ryan Reynolds appears to be having such a fun time leaning into his natural charm and smarminess that has been a staple of his career ever since his Van Wilder days that really blew up in 2016 with that small indie cult classic Deadpool. I enjoyed watching him on screen more in this film than in Red Notice even though Ryan’s pretty much playing the same character in both films, which is hardly a quote you’d see on the movie poster anytime soon.
The rest of the cast doesn’t seem to be having as much fun as Ryan and I feel the movie suffers for it. Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, and Catherine Keener all put in serious and grounded performances and while Reynolds taps into his more serious side on occasion, it’s belied in other scenes where he’s brandishing a not-lightsaber and beating the shit out of uniformed guards with convenient face-covering black masks.
The tone’s like a seismograph during a magnitude 10 earthquake in the fact that it’s a bit inconsistent.
The visual effects are in the same basket as the tone of the movie. Some of the scenes with the aforementioned non-lightsaber and the time travel sequences were pretty good and I was planning on gushing over it right now. Then the last third of the movie happens.
I guess either the budget ran out or whoever was doing the visual effects had to leave their computer for some unexpected reason like a dodgy Mexican burrito and while he was out, they let the work experience kid have a crack at it. I mean just look at this younger version of Maya that gave me flashbacks to the infamous Mummy Dwayne the Rock Johnson CGI incident of 1999.
This really frustrates me. Why do we need to keep using CGI to de-age actors instead of using some of the younger actors tending all the bars and waiting tables all around Hollywood? Just because Marvel and Disney did it without it looking like they’re having some sort of demonic exorcism in real-time doesn’t mean you can do it as well or without turning your entire movie into just the source material for newer memes.
That may seem like a bit of a tangent, but that one scene really soured the movie’s climax for me. Well, I say “climax”, but it felt more like when you let go of a half-inflated balloon. Fun for the first couple seconds as it whizzes around the room, then distressing as it knocks over your grandmother’s ashes just as your parents walk through the door.
Why is it distressing I hear you ask after you try and figure out whether that simile was from personal experience or not. Because the ending is so inconsequential. They’ve survived and changed the past which then changes the future, and everything seems like the perfect happy ending.
And then you start thinking about it too much. Because then you realise the truth that this Adam we’re currently following no longer belongs in 2050, that world’s gone, replaced with the “better” timeline. Then you realise he’s got nowhere else that is “his” time. He’s a man out of time forever left to wander until death claims him.
I’m not saying I wanted to watch Ryan Reynolds spend years as a time vagabond but maybe just some sort of post-credit scene as he’s dying cold and alone with everyone and everything he’s ever loved fades from his memory…
Also, Jennifer Garner is barely used which is such a waste, especially when her 13 Going on 30 castmate, Mark Ruffalo gets more screentime.
Have you seen The Adam Project? What did you think of it? Should they have given Jennifer Garner more to do in the movie? Let me know down below.
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