Synopsis: A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future.
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldaña, Catherine Keener, Alex Mallari Jr.
Director: Shawn Levy
Running Length: 106 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: We’ll lay it out on the table right away. The last Netflix movie we saw Ryan Reynolds in was Red Notice in November 2021, and it was a bona fide stinker. Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson showed up and collected enormous paydays for a tired script about a trio of double-crossing criminals. They looked bored…but not as bored as most audiences. So seeing Reynolds with a new movie, The Adam Project, so quickly in 2022, you can see why I was understandably a little wary of getting too excited about its prospects. Reteamed with his Free Guy director Shawn Levy, Reynolds stars alongside Jennifer Garner and Marc Ruffalo, another pair reunited almost two decades since they appeared in 13 Going on 30.
In the film, Reynolds (Deadpool) is Adam Reed, who travels from 2050 back to 2018 to try and stop his father from figuring out the key to time travel, a concept that has dire consequences for the future. Problems arise when Adam instead lands in 2022 and meets his younger self when his life as a friendless high schooler is also in serious tumult. There’s also the small matter of his mother (Garner, Love, Simon) being recently widowed after his father (Ruffalo, Thanks for Sharing) was killed in a car crash. Still unable to talk about their grief, mother and son haven’t dealt entirely with this loss, and the wedge between them is growing. When 2050 Adam meets 2022 Adam (newcomer Walker Scobell), the convincing is easy but stopping him from asking questions is another thing.
When 2050 Adam is followed from the future by Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener Captain Phillips), his father’s former partner, the two Adams must stick together to make sure the other is protected. With help from a mysterious ally (Zoe Saldaña, Out of the Furnace) and over additional time jumps, each will learn valuable lessons from the other about remembering the past and valuing the present.
I’m going to take a big swing at a guess and say that when reviews from critics and audiences alike for The Adam Project come out, many are going to compare it to the kind of mid-summer entertainment we anticipated in the early ‘90s. A glance at the space-age gadgets, time-travel plot devices, family emotional elements, conniving but relatively benign villains, smart-aleck dialogue, and fast-paced action sequences are the chief reasons why. After all, they were present for 98% of all movies released during those blistering dog days of the year. In that way, The Adam Project will slip right into a sweet spot for adults of a certain age watching with their kids or want to screen it again for them after.
The more I think about The Adam Project, all that flash can’t hold a candle to the scenes screenwriters Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You), T.S. Nowlin (The Maze Runner), & Jennifer Flackett (Wimbledon) include that strip away all of those safety blankets and let the actors feel their feelings. The best special effect is watching Reynolds let down his phony-baloney goofball veneer and be a real person. We hardly ever get that anymore, and that’s disappointing, not that you can blame him because when he did try for more dramatic endeavors, many detractors told him to stick to comedy. Those same detractors now think he plays it safe resting on his funny bones. It’s a good mixture of both the wry and dry, with Reynolds leaving enough space for Scobell to shine as his younger counterpart.
Levy (The Internship) has had enough practice with these major movies to juggle a lot all at once, and while at times this can make the film feel just a tad workmanlike and hollow, it’s a polished piece of machinery that flies by in an instant. I could easily have believed The Adam Project was orchestrated for release on an IMAX screen, and it would likely have been just as impressive a presentation. Anything that deals with the loss of a parent, especially a dad, will go right for my jugular, and as expected, the right chords were plucked/manipulated, and I shed some happy-sad tears. There’s no enduring legacy this film will leave behind, but for the solid two-hour entertainment it provides, complete with several needle drop music cues, you can hardly miss this project.