If last year’s wonderful Free Guy was proof that director Shawn Levy and actor Ryan Reynolds was a perfect pairing than their next effort, The Adam Project firmly cements that statement as fact. This time, the duo tackles a science fiction time travel story with a twist attached but leave it to the words time travel to get a few groans from those in the bleachers. Actually, If you listen close, everyone is groaning when those words are mentioned in a synopsis – there’s been an abundance of the sub-genre lately with no signs of slowing down any time soon. And with the right stars attached and a slew of distributors willing to add to their streaming library, why not, if it isn’t broken, why fit it?
For the past couple years Netflix’s ambition for releasing one movie a week seems promising given the amount of original content but often, it’s more of an under-performance since the films lack the substance, committing to the style and star power attached and previewed in their upcoming slate trailers released at the beginning of each year. 2022 had one of those showing off the 85 new movies that would be making their way to the streamer but out of that number only a fraction is worth watching. The Adam Project is worth watching.
Air Force pilot Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) escapes his present year of 2050 to go back in time to prevent time travel from ever being invented. Miscalculating Adam travels back to 2022 instead of 2018 where he comes across his younger self (played by Walker Scobell). Their father Louis (Mark Ruffalo) in the younger Adam’s timeline has been dead for a year and a half causing Adam to grow distant from his mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner). Adam, because of his size talks a lot and pays the price with bruises and suspensions.
If The Adam Project gets one thing out of 1000 things right, it’s the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell. Added to that is the nearly identical choreography between the two Adam’s. it’s as small as the twirl of a fork or the closing of a fridge on the second attempt – both actors work well with one another. Reynold’s is riding high on that signature quick whited charm and reactionary dialogue since Deadpool, and Scobell matches him flawlessly. I really believe Walker as a young version of Ryan.
Who knows, now that Shawn Levy is confirmed to direct the next Deadpool, maybe we get a young Wade Wilson from Scobell.
Normally from a time travel premise, the main character wants to fix something in their life for selfish reasons. The Adam Project wants to reverse the creation of time travel which creates the conflict. Adam’s father Louis (Mark Ruffalo) inadvertently becomes the father of time travel which turns his partner and colleague Maya (Catherine Keener) against him. Older Adam and his wife and pilot Laura (Zoe Saldaña) make it their mission to travel back in time to 2018 and put an end to the creation.
For the little amount of time Saldaña is in the movie, the actress makes everything look easy. Maybe it’s being in the marvel machine as Gamora but her comfort level in action sequences looks effortless and poetic. Same goes for Garner. Reuniting with her 13 Going on 30 partner Ruffalo, her Ellie provides the much-needed emotional backbone to the story. It’s always the mother that can compose themselves best when too much is piled on a plate. Her husband’s dead, and her son grows distant by the day. Who’s taking care of her? All the validation she needed, she got, it just took a lot of growing up and a couple life lessons learned.
The Adam Project boasts an ambitious entry into the science fiction genre but with 4 screenwriters adding their voice to the final product, the result is a thin plot with too many cooks in the kitchen, and a weak villain who has no driving purpose to her mission or goal. Despite this, a ton of fun is still to be had with sarcastic dialogue, a heartfelt father/son and mother/son relationship, more than decent special effects and standout performances from the core cast. Add in some unnecessary yet brief easter eggs (Deadpool and The Hulk stickers flashing quickly) and The Adam Project makes up for what Red Notice promised it could do. Another win for the Levy and Reynolds pairing.
The key is Reynolds and Scobell – everything revolves around them. To add further proof of their performances together, Scobell performing a monologue of Deadpool on set is exactly what this film needed to stick some sort of landing.
Written By: Jonathan Tropper, T.S Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Music By: Rob Simonsen
Cinematography: Tobias Schliessler
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldaña
Where to Watch: Netflix
Release Date: March 11, 2022
Running Time: 1 Hour 46 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
My Score: 3.5 out of 5