Ryan Reynolds and Zoe Saldana step back in time in Netflix’s latest sci-fi/action movie.
Set in 2022, The Adam Project seems to be on trend with the general downward spiral of humanity. 30 years in the future, time travel is being misused by a scientist to secure their domination and control. Adam (Ryan Reynolds) must travel into the past to stop it from ever happening, something I am sure many of the actors must have wished possible throughout the filming. However in doing so, he bumps into and is forced to rely upon the help of his 12 year old self, played by newcomer Walker Scobell.
Reynolds as usual brings his trademark wit, which does help to carry what is a very thin concept. Zoe Saldana, plays future Adam’s super soldier girlfriend, Laura, but again is given very little opportunity to go deeper as a character. Scobell shows he has potential as young Adam, his chemistry with Reynolds is something that helps the film enormously. He is not given a huge amount to do, but this being his first film, he does his job admirably and delivers his comedy one-liners with aplomb.
Jennifer Garner provides a warm, but forgettable turn as Adam’s mother, dealing with the grief of losing her husband and still having to raise a soon to be teenager. Mark Ruffalo joins the cast as Louis Reed, as both the father of Adam and time travel, who’s death weighs heavily on the family and the future. Given his calibre as an actor, the build-up to meeting him is thankfully worth the wait and he provides some emotional grounding for both versions of his son. As it is a PG certificate film, the family vibes do help paper over the lack of depth but does not excuse it altogether.
However, Reed’s arch-rival and aforementioned future scientist, Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) does fall a little flat. It seems odd that someone so all powerful is a doing her own dirty work throughout the film. She also has very little backstory or internal struggle, aspects which the film alludes to, but fails to act upon. She also interacts with her younger self, created by it seems, a rather creepy CGI face swap onto a younger actor… creating an ‘uncanny’ distraction.
The presence of grief and how it is dealt with is felt throughout the film. While maybe at odds with the film’s lighter tone, it never ventures too far into serious territory. This again is one of the aspects that really highlights the one dimensional nature of the movie. Director Shaun Levy, who helmed 2021’s Free Guy (also starring Reynolds) seems to find it difficult to strike a balance between the human and more fantastical moments. Something he’s not had a problem with on previous films such as Night at the Museum, but maybe wasn’t given enough free rein here to completely pull it off.
Visually the CGI (apart from creepy Keener face) and locations look acceptable, due to I think some clever budget ‘massaging’. The extended use of only a few areas makes the scale of the film comes across as very small. Never seeing the future (apart from a short prologue) or any aspect of older Adam’s life beyond his young self, does stilt the concept a little. The future weapons are interesting in design and spectacle, but not in the case of costumes, with older Adam’s flight suit looking more like a baggy boiler suit.
Conventional weapons are also used in one of the fight sequences, which does seem like a missed opportunity to pull you further onto the sci-fi setting. The tenuous space jet ‘key fob’ that only works under really convoluted situations (the user having healthy DNA) is another weird experience that has way too much bearing on the plot.
Overall, The Adam Project has no real perspective to offer. It spreads the few concepts it does come up with thinly over its run time and relies on cast alone to attract and retain its audience. However, this feels like Netflix has just paid for content as filler and could’ve been a much better film based on the concept.
Author: Joe, Bath store