Friday 5 August 2022

Movie Review: The Adam Project (2022)

A science fiction time travel adventure, The Adam Project offers lukewarm entertainment with the requisite thrills, humour, and tender moments.

In 2050, time travel is a reality. Air force pilot Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) steals a fighter jet and travels back to 2022. He reconnects with his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell), a 6th grader frequently bullied at school. Young Adam is mouthy, and his relationship with his mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner) has been strained ever since his father Louis (Mark Ruffalo) died in a car crash. Louis was a physics researcher who developed theories enabling time travel.

The older Adam is on a personal mission to find his wife Laura Shane (Zoe Saldana), a pilot who traveled back in time to prevent the evil Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) from taking control of the time travel industry. With Sorian and her goons in hot pursuit, both Adams travel back to 2018 where they will try to convince Louis to stop the science of time travel before it starts.

Directed by Shawn Levy with four writers collaborating on the script, The Adam Project tries to be all things to all people, and the results are unsurprisingly middling. Ryan Reynolds delivers the expected snide comments, familial poignancy underpins the action, and Catherine Keener offers up the stock villain with evil ambitions to rule the world. For the easily impressed and attention-span challenged, CGI-enabled time travel thrills and bloodless combat action show up about every eight minutes. An invade-and-destroy-the-fort climax is a tired exercise in CGI excess.

None of this makes the film bad, just frustratingly manufactured and beset by whizz-bang flakiness. In the quiet moments between mashups of Star Wars, The Terminator, and Back To The Future, themes of loss, love, care, and absenteeism do break through. The cast is sufficiently talented to thrive away from the green screens, and the human-centred relationships between Adam, his parents, and his wife border on excellent. The older Adam imparting wisdom through a heartfelt chat with his unsuspecting mom represents a fine scene. The sacrifice Adam and his wife Laura are forced to confront adds soul to their adventure, hinting at the undefined yet keenly sensed bond of human familiarity transcending time and space. 

The Adam Project is noticeably numb when it mindlessly races to the next round of digital combat, and appreciably better when it pauses to reflect.

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