The Adam Project

Directed By Shawn Levy

Starring – Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo

The Plot – A time-traveling pilot (Reynolds) teams up with his younger self (Walker Scobell) and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving humanity for the future.

Rated PG-13 for violence/action, adult language and suggestive references.

The Adam Project | Official Trailer | Netflix – YouTube

POSITIVES

When Ryan Reynolds is allowed to flex his dramatic chops and act with a palpable degree of dramatic intensity and purpose, he’s able to prove that he’s so much more than a comedic talent, giving the film a compelling character that is balanced with a degree of earnestness and humanity that isn’t just trying to sell a trailer with cheap quips. Thankfully, this is the majority of his presence in “The Adam Project”, where Reynolds flourishes with watery eyes and longing regret that help to override the complete lack of characterization that the film consistently absolves from, and instead passes along the comedic muscle to 13-year-old Walker Scobell, who resonates accordingly with the kind of timing and charisma that his elder on-screen counterpart has made a career off of. Beyond this, the technical merits are equally alluring, with the cinematography here from Tobias A. Schliessler, a first-time collaborator with Levy, seamlessly transferring the familiarity of Spielberg cinema with homaging respect, instead of artificial theft. The starry-eyed skyline shots of the pacific northwest establish consistent conscience in the geographic placement of the story, but aside from that play all the more vividly to the science fiction atmospheric range that the story is constantly channeling within its thematic impulses. Likewise, Levy too is up to the task of establishing his own signature style of movement and framing with the lens, using rapid velocity during action sequences to wholeheartedly immerse us without ever sacrificing the clarity and detection of its depiction. As for the story itself, like “Free Guy”, the film also tiptoes across minefields of nostalgic resonance that could easily blow up in the faces of those encased at any moment, but Levy instead uses them only as temporary coincidences, instead of desperation crutches that are being used to withstand the movie’s complete lack of creativity. There certainly are moments where this film will remind you of other science fiction films previously established, but it’s what the film does with its characters that serves as the biggest degree of diversity, especially in the dynamic of older and younger Adam, where the former surprisingly learns more from the latter, instead of vice versa. This certainly speaks volumes to the ages old ideal that our wisdom prospered more accordingly in our youths, but also deconstructs movies like “The Terminator”, where characters from the future are educating those who haven’t experienced it yet, giving the film an insightful balance that it also uses to appraise value in our current days over those we look forward to in the future.

 

NEGATIVES

“The Adam Project” concept, with as many as three different scripts by four different screenwriters, has been on the shelf for over a decade, and though it’s commendable that the film was finally able to be made, the juxtaposition of doing it with pieces from each of those scripts shows to say the least. The biggest problem here is certainly the tonal shifts, particularly the time devoted to the action, which dominates the entirety of the second half of the film, and lessens the poignant impact of the scenes of sentiment, aforementioned as the single best of the film. The disjointment can also be felt in the air of its soundtrack, which while stacked with classic rock favorites, bares no resemblance contextually or creatively to the film that unravels before us. This inconsistency carries over to the returns on characters and performances, as not everyone is memorable for the occasion. While Reynolds and Scobell are virtual forces to be reckoned with in their importance to the film, it’s the supporting cast that bares more than a few wasted opportunities to an otherwise incredibly stacked ensemble. Garner and Ruffalo are used decent enough in a few spare scenes, but the bigger story here is Zoe Saldana, whose plot could be removed entirely from the film due to its insignificance, and especially Catherine Keener’s practically moustache-twirling antagonist, whose motivations and autopiloted deliveries totally drop the ball on the impactful conflict. It’s rare in a film where I hate a character because of how little is done with her off-screen, but that’s the case here as Keener’s Maya Sorian doesn’t even seem like one of the five most important characters in a film where she’s driving the entirety of the conflict, cementing a turn that is the bare bones definition of one-dimensional antagonist that drags the film down each time her character is on-screen. Aside from this, the dialogue in the film is some of the worst and most obvious that I have heard from a film in 2022. Instead of authenticity in the direction of interactions enhanced by nuance, the lines of dialogue (Especially in the first half) are instead used to teach young Adam (In this case the audience) the science, backstories, and internal feelings of every character, choosing to tell us these matters intead of showing them to us in a way that feel synthetically earned. In fact, the entire first act of the movie feels strangely detached from the rest, beginning in the thick of the narrative for a film that feels like we missed the entire first act, and making it all the more difficult to attach to these characters initially because of the lack of experience or time we’re given to properly grow with them.

 

OVERALL

Shawn Levy’s latest, “The Adam Project”, tackles some surprisingly hefty themes and emotional resonance that helps to override some of the inconsistent measures of production scattered throughout the film’s tired eleven year history. Though the dialogue is painfully obvious, and the action dominates more of the foreground over moments of sincerity than I would prefer, the combination of Reynolds and Scobell proves to be too charming to let slip away, solidifying a love letter to 80’s science fiction narratives with comforting touches of Amblin scattered casually throughout.

My Grade: 6/10 or C+

7 thoughts on “The Adam Project

  1. Being confined to not much movement due to vertigo, I watched this afternoon. I do see what you mean in some of your comments. I really enjoyed the movie, in spite of agreeing with the flaws. The youngster was amazing I thought. I thoroughly enjoyed his role. I’m a Ryan Reynolds fan, but this young actor stole my heart. I look forward to watching his career.

  2. Right off the bag, I appreciate that you gave Ryan Reynolds talent as this is way more than just another comedic despite him being very funny in this. I also love your praise for Walker Scobell who is perfect alongside Reynolds. While most of your negatives didn’t bother me as much, I certainly can’t disagree. I especially agree with how poorly Catherine Keener is utilized as the villain. I will say that watching the film, I would have never guessed that it has passed through three different scripts by four different screenwriters over the course of a decade. I appreciate the extra research as I would’ve never known that. Fantastic work!

  3. That mashes up well with what my wife said. She said it was “okay”….which is more than I can usually get out of her when I ask about a movie, so maybe I’ll absolutely love it when I get time to watch it? I’m gonna watch it either way because Reynolds has become a favorite of mine over the years. Here’s to hoping it’s great!

  4. My 75 yr old parents love this movie. I’m so glad you reviewed it. My expectations were low, but it sounds like I might actually enjoy parts of it. I’ll be watching it this weekend. Thanks for a great review!

  5. I started to watch this last week, got side tracked by time and did not finish it. I had not gotten much farther than the opening so will restart it eventually. Thank you for your review.

  6. I was so bored watching this. I really just couldn’t find a connection. Now knowing that it had four different screenwriters makes complete sense for me. I was so disconnected so quickly that there were things not matching up. Could it be me or could it be the combination of scripts from the writers, I don’t know, but it sure is sounding like the latter.

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