Friday saw a big release for Netflix with The Adam Project. With fantastic performances by household names like Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, and Mark Ruffalo. And newcomers like Walker Scobell, the sci-fi time-travel flick proves to be a fun ride, both heartfelt and surprisingly profound.
The film follows Adam– two versions of him to be exact. Ryan Reynolds is the Adam Reed of 2050. A middle-aged man whose cynical nature is fueled by the regrets of his past. His counterpart is Walker Scobell, the Adam Reed of 2022, a smart-mouthed twelve-year-old kid who’s got wisdom beyond his years. After a wounded older Adam finds himself back in 2022 through a time jump gone wrong, he reluctantly recruits the help of his younger self to put an end to time travel once and for all. The nature of time travel has created a totalitarian, “Terminator”-like hellscape for the inhabitants of 2050.
With the very theoretical groundings of time-travel emerging in 2018 as a result of their father, the two must go back and put a stop to it ever existing. They do this while dodging the murderous path of the film’s main villain, Maya Sorian (played by Catherine Keener). Her authoritarian leadership has been the result of her control over the science.
While the film’s time-travel logistics don’t get too heavy-handed (other than the frequent mention that middle-aged Adam is breaking all the rules), the goal of the protagonists make it so that the plot doesn’t have to reconcile too much with everything making perfect sense. The two Adams’ aims in stopping time travel are to create one fixed timeline; no multiverses, or anything like that. This helps to keep the film’s relatively low runtime (clocking at around an hour forty-five) a full and engaging experience without coming across as convoluted. It also gives the movie more of a chance to showcase its characters, and, though a bit few and far-between, its action sequences.
The Adam Project’s fight scenes are incredibly fun; while heavy on the special effects, they are fluid, fast, and engaging. Older Adam and his wife Laura (played by Zoe Saldaña) kick absolute ass against heavy-armoured enemies who are only visible upon close contact. Young Adam jokes about older Adam’s “lightsaber,” a weapon that works both offensively and defensively in scenes to create neat moments that look straight out of a video game. Despite there being only a handful of fight scenes throughout the film, each feels well-deserved and serves to break up the more conversation-driven side of the film, allowing the movie to really delve into its sci-fi inspirations.
Overall, the big sell of the film comes down to the chemistry between the two Adams. Both Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell do a great job of working as the same person and as foils of each other. Their relationship speaks to how life experiences and trauma can change us as we grow older. What keeps us who we are never really goes away. The quirks in personality, the memories that shape our character, whether near or far. The film’s supporting cast of characters like Jennifer Garner, Adam’s grief-ridden mother, and Mark Ruffalo, his absent scientist father, spur the emotional connect between the two Adams and their relationships with their family.
Middle-aged Adam feels regret over his indifference towards his mother’s struggles as a kid. This is something that young Adam is currently engaging in. He’s got a shot to fix his actions after years of reflecting on how things have gone. The film begs the question of what you would say to your younger self if you had the chance; what advice would you give, what wrongs would you work to right? The film gets quite deep into themes of forgiveness. Forgiveness of others, and of ourselves, while reminding us how precious time and the people around us really are.
A profound and fun adventure through time, The Adam Project was a delight to watch. Have you seen it yet? Be sure to let us know!
For more from Cara check out her review of Pokemon Legends: Arceus here!