Light and inoffensive, Shawn Levy’s The Adam Project maintains a light tone while appealing to lovers of 80s sci-fi and Ryan Reynolds fans alike.
Reynolds stars as Adam Reed, a fighter pilot from the year 2050. Adam steals a jet and attempts a rescue mission to 2018, but accidentally winds up in 2022 where he meets the younger version of himself (Walker Scobell). Older Adam is injured and needs time to repair his ship while Young Adam is suspended from school for numerous fights.
Older Adam wants to prevent the death of his wife Laura (Zoe Saldana) in 2018 and is being pursued by Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), the leader of the 2050 world. As the two Adams spend more time together, Older Adam attempts to help Young Adam connect with his widowed mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner), while Young Adam wants to understand how Older Adam became so bitter and lonely.
Together, the two Adams must travel back to 2018 and recruit the only person who can help them fix the future: Adam’s father Louis (Mark Ruffalo).
This plot gives the film plenty of opportunity to discuss the impact of fathers on the lives of their sons. At the same time, the dual Adams allow commentary on self-growth as well as perspective on your previous actions. This is not explored with a grand amount of depth. There isn’t much gray area. Generally, characters feel a certain way, and their beliefs can be changed with a one-sentence explanation that should have come much sooner.
The sci-fi elements leave a bit to be desired, but the film doesn’t get too in-depth as to make things complicated. Films with time can get a bit wacky, and the film holds most of that back. The majority of the narrative takes place between the two Adams. There are bits of action, which is mostly hand-to-hand combat. Why the film decided to include odd needle drops in these action sequences, I’ll never know. There are some jet dogfights, but they are messy to follow, despite being pretty straightforward.
Reynolds is stuck in a rut. There are some moments of genuine sensitivity and pathos which we rarely see from the actor. But, as soon as those genuinely great moments happen, he returns to his pithy sarcasm and fast-talking wit. His moviestar persona has gained him a massively successful following, but this film has glimmers of something more that the actor can tap into. There is a mid-film scene he shares with Garner that allows him some quiet sincerity, which may be some of the best acting he’s shown. Unfortunately, he quickly falls back into his default persona.
If you are the type of person who is annoyed by Reynolds’ schtick, Scobell will not be your cup of tea. He nails the motormouth aspect, but lacks any sort of charisma or likeability. Not only is the character presented as a little jerk, Reynolds constantly refers to how annoying and jerk-like he is. It’s not necessarily Scobell’s fault, but the character is by no means loveable.
Ruffalo and Garner don’t have much time to work with, but they do what they can when they are on screen. Keener is given the character with the least amount of depth, and there isn’t much she can do with it. Saldana is a breath of fresh air and an injection of energy when she shows up, but she also doesn’t stick around very long.
I know everything I have written makes it sound like the film was utterly dreadful, but it really wasn’t. It has some fun moments and some really sweet intentions. I don’t hold any ill will against it.
By no means revolutionary, The Adam Project will appeal to a broad audience and leave a small and positive impression. Some movies are perfectly fine without being much more than that. I’m glad I watched it, but I doubt I will think about it again.
The Adam Project is currently streaming on Netflix.