More than usual, Netflix seems to be going all out this year with their category of original movies set to stream throughout the upcoming months. While some might be regarded as forgettable when it’s all over, one that could be an early hit from them comes in the form of the latest sci-fi adventure The Adam Project from director and producer Shawn Levy will go perfectly with the friendly Amblin-type films coming out right now.
What’s the Story: In the year 2022, 12-year-old Adam Reed (Walker Scobell) isn’t having the best adjustment to his life when he keeps getting into trouble in school, all happening after the passing of his father, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), over a year earlier. He’s at the stage where he still misses him and gives his mom Ellie (Jennifer Garner) a bit of a hard time when she isn’t keeping everything together. Then, one night while staying at home for suspension, a mysterious fighter pilot (Ryan Reynolds) crash lands in the forest near his house, leaving Adam to investigate. Wounded and frustrated where he is, Adam notices the mannerisms he usually does, which has Adam discovering he’s in the presence of an older version of himself from the year 2050. He was supposed to be on a classified rescue mission, but since he was accidently sent to the present, Adam will need his help on an adventure with his advanced time-traveling technology to save the future.
This is rare for me to get excited unexpectedly about a movie after remembering hearing rumblings about it last year and forgetting about it. Maybe Reynolds tweeted images from it, but the buzz was coming through fast. And this was a project that’s been in talks about ten years ago with Tom Cruise once initially set to star. But the trailer from last month hooked me, as well as learning other critics had the chance to see it early when it dropped. The good news what I was glad to watch a screener of it the next morning I received the invite. I’m always in a good mood to watch anything sci-fi that interests me, especially when a pivotal point in the premise has to do with time travel. The Adam Project won’t be hailed as a perfect masterpiece or anything, but I was very impressed with how entertained I was while watching this.
Experiencing another movie revolving around time will likely bring out the expert in anyone with a bit of originality to make it unlike anything is done before. This allows us to wonder if our future self needs to help our younger selves in a dire situation. Even thinking about it give us shades of Flight of the Navigator and a less violent version of Looper. The idea that this universe has a fixed timeline makes sense when it questions if younger Adam will remember meeting future him. Levy and the screenwriters (Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowling, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin) explain the rules quickly enough to find it interesting to ask complicated questions. Thanks to another surprising collaboration with its star and Levy following last summer’s hit Free Guy (Which everybody online suddenly loves to annoyingly hate on), they must’ve loved working together to take the watchers on a journey that felt like a perfect throwback of the classic adventure movies kids fell in love with at home. Predictable it can somewhat be, it offers a fresh sense of warmth that gives off something important wrapped around the action
Anytime, or at least nowadays, we have to expect the same thing coming from a Ryan Reynolds performance since we’ve grown accustomed to him for years now, regardless of the genre. But though he’s playing his usual self, this is one of those times where the story benefits from him for his acting. And when he’s onscreen with newbie Walker Scobell as his character’s younger self, the two of them stand out as the film’s best element. For his first acting role ever, Scobell did an outstanding job where I believed he could be Reynolds in the present based on his smart-ass attitude. Trust me; their chemistry worked wonders from a couple of scenes they shared as they had to figure out what needed to be done. At first, they wouldn’t seem like the best partners, especially when the older version knows his past isn’t the brightest, but you know they need each other and bond with perfection. The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t have a ton to do, but I’m always a geek for Mark Ruffalo and it’s a nice 13 Going on 30 reunion we got here with Jennifer Garner, who plays Adam’s widowed mom. Zoe Saldana as Laura could’ve used more screentime since she’s only relegated to help out in the second act, but the limited time she shared with Reynolds, which was the reason he jumped back in time to safe her, wasn’t too bad. It’s also kind of funny realizing this is a movie with half its stars from Marvel movies (Deadpool, Hulk, Gamora, Elektra).
Even with it being an adventure, it was a surprise realizing it had good moments of humor sprinkled in. Though not every joke hits, a good chunk of them did have me laughing based on the dialogue. And the action probably won’t be regarded as the most ground-breaking and it be more on the forgettable side of things. But, that said, they did bring a lot of energy in how they played out, more importantly, they played over them with some classic rock hits during them. They must’ve know I’m pretty big on Pete Townshend’s Let My Love Open the Door.” Though nothing made me smile more during this awesome fight scene in the woods with Adam and Laura set to Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times,” and I listened to that just a few days before I watched this in advance. The Adam Project has a heart up its sleeves that I wasn’t expecting. A character like Adam revisits his own history by accident only to know there’s a way to make peace to change the outcome of tour inevitable future. But it’ll hit close to home for anyone who lost a parent during their pre-teen years. I actually shed a few tears near the end that was worth it. Bottom line: Don’t be a dick to your mothers.
As good as this was from my viewing experience, I did wish specific themes are much more profound. While the third act contains fun elements, I admit it was the weakest compared to what we’ve seen an hour prior, where it can get high on the CGI that made it less grounded. That opinion showed significantly when a character distracted the hell out of me when that person showed up. And we haven’t seen Catherine Keener in a while, but she was, unfortunately, an unintimidating, one-dimensional villain I didn’t care too much about whenever she appeared.
Overall, The Adam Project is the sci-fi surprise that exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t flawless, but it was a fascinating, fast-paced adventure full of heart and thrills set in the universe of time travel. The action was excellent, rockin’ soundtrack and a great pair in Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell. Suppose you’re on the search for a good Netflix original with Reynolds. In that case, you can be sure this is more enjoyable than what he came out before because, unlike 6 Underground and Red Notice, this was actually worth your time to feel nostalgic.
Grade: (7/10) B
The Adam Project is only streaming exclusively on Netflix starting March 11. Runtime: 106 Minutes. Studio(s): Netflix and Skydance Media