The Adam Project (2022)

It seems like Ryan Reynolds has found a favorite director in Shawn Levy.  It has recently been announced that there will finally be a Deadpool 3, and that Levy, who directed Reynolds in Free Guy as well as this movie, will be behind the camera.  It's good news because the two seem to work well together, but it also seems like they may work a bit too well together in some cases.  Reynolds has taken to approaching many of his recent roles as if he was playing Wade Wilson, thinking that what his audiences want to see are varying degrees of the Merc with a Mouth.  Perhaps it was because Free Guy kind of forced Reynolds a bit out of the mold that it seemed fresh, but with The Adam Project Levy seems to have given his star freer reign and the writers seem to have indulged him as well.

What they also seem to have done is tried, as hard as possible, to add a whole lot of family drama to the proceedings.  Strange thing is, even though the emotional manipulation is obvious from the beginning, both Reynolds and Walker Scobell (playing 40-year-old and 12-year-old versions of the same character, respectively) manage to have the chemistry to pull it off.  A movie like this that is brash and obvious about what it is trying to do, with a somewhat thin plot to tie it all together, shouldn't work as well as The Adam Project does. 

Adam Reed steals his jet plane, which has the ability to open up wormholes that allow travel through time, to head back to 2018 from the year 2050.  After his jet is damaged and he suffers wounds himself Adam finds that, instead of reaching his destination, he accidentally ended up in 2022.  He enlists his 12-year-old self, who is still grieving over the loss of his father a little over a year prior, to give him a place to recuperate while his jet repairs itself.  The problem is Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), a former business partner of their dad and the one responsible for creating time travel, is hot on adult Adam's trail with a group of soldiers and her right-hand man Christos (Alex Mallari Jr.).

It turns out the reason that Adam was headed back to 2018 was to find out what happened to his wife Laura (Zoe Saldana), whom he believes Maya had killed.  It turns out it's a lot more complex than that, meaning when getting to 2018 they must consult with their father Louis (Mark Ruffalo) to find out how to put things right.  Along the way both Adams are forced to come to terms with their personal and family issues. 

The beginning of the movie is a little bit rough.  It's the precocious kid with the dead father who has a quirky relationship with his mother (Jennifer Garner) that has been seen in a ton of romantic comedies.  What The Adam Project does right is quickly begin to call out how wrong this is, with the older Adam lecturing the younger on how badly they treated their mother and how much he regretted it all his life.  He also doesn't go through the usual rigmarole of trying to hide who he is, being perfectly honest when trying to convince his younger self, who is understandably skeptical at first. 

On the time travel front it does come up with some new ideas on why the older version of Adam wouldn't instantly have memories of everything that is going on, with some convincing ideas of why, even to time travelers, changes made to the world may go unnoticed at first.  It can get a little confusing trying to explain away supposed paradoxes, but largely it all plays within the rules, even if the audience has to work some of it out themselves.  

Once the movie gets going it has a decent, straightforward plot, but it seems like the plot is just there as a background to help reconcile father with sons.  Because of that Catherine Keener, though she does a good job of portraying the emotionally dead person she becomes in the future, still never gets a chance to make Maya a truly memorable villain.  The faceless soldiers, and even Christos, are there just have action sequences to break up the family drama.  The other major problem is, despite having actors like Jennifer Garner and Zoe Saldana, they basically seem to pop in, fulfill their role in the Adams's lives, and then pop out.  They are severely underwritten, don't appear to play much more than a role to get the plot moving, and honestly seem like they were doing Levy and Reynolds a favor by spending a few days on The Adam Project before going back to another production a little ways down the road.     

Still, the movie works more often than not, largely due to Reynolds and Scobell being believable protagonists.  I just wish it felt a bit more in some cases like a finished cinematic movie rather than a television film with a few big stars sprinkled about.  It seems there were a ton of good ideas that the writers were running with, and many of them made it into the movie and work, but it also seems like pieces are missing here and there in order to make this more of a complete experience. 

The Adam Project (2022)
Time: 106 minutes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Catherine Keener
Director: Shawn Levy



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