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October 2022

The Adam Project

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Netflix
Release Date: March 11, 2022


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Movie Review - 'The Adam Project'

by Adam Pavlacka on March 11, 2022 @ 2:14 a.m. PST

A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future.

A core rule in most time travel sci-fi stories is that you don't change the past, or else you risk changing the future in unexpected ways. What if someone's already changed the past and you need to set things right?

That's the premise behind "The Adam Project," a sci-fi adventure movie that pulls stylistic inspiration from a number of '80s classics.

Although the sci-fi premise is the driving force behind the plot, the core of "The Adam Project" isn't time travel itself. It's a coming-of-age story and a father/son story with a sci-fi sheen on top. It's also surprisingly optimistic, which stands out when jaded cynicism seems to be much more common among popular entertainment.

Ryan Reynolds turns in a solid performance as older Adam, but he's also very much Ryan Reynolds in this role. If you're a fan of his humor, carry on. If you didn't like him in "Deadpool" or "Free Guy," then you'll probably want to skip "The Adam Project" because Walker Scobell does a great job of mimicking Reynolds's style as young Adam. It's double the deadpan sarcasm.

Both Reynolds and Scobell have great chemistry as two versions of the same character. Scobell's Adam is still trying to find his place in the world, while dealing with the death of his father. Meanwhile, Reynolds's Adam regrets much of what he did when he was younger. Meeting his younger self wasn't part of the plan. Forced together by necessity, young Adam and older Adam quickly start to realize that each has something to learn from the other.

Zoe Saldaña has an all-too-brief role in the second act of the film as older Adam's wife and compatriot in ass-kicking. She's far from a damsel in distress — on the contrary, she saves both Adams — but the film only teases at her backstory. It would've been great if Saldaña's role had been a bit meatier.

Everything comes to a head in the third act, when both Adams meet up with their deceased dad (Mark Ruffalo) in an attempt to put everything right. Ruffalo serves as the emotional anchor for the whole family; he grounds both of the Adams and allows them to fully come out of their shells and work as a team. It's a fine line, and he walks it deftly.

On top of the performances, there's plenty of sci-fi gadgetry and time-travel fighter jet action to go around. The futuristic weapons include a not-quite-a-lightsaber clone that young Adam can't wait to get his hands on. There is some minor blood, but since this is a family film, the majority of the violence is cartoonish. When the bad guys die, they vaporize into a pixelated poof of color. It's a result of dying outside their intended time, according to the film's lore. Parents will appreciate that it's stylized in a game-like fashion rather than explicit violence.

In addition to being inspired by '80s adventure films, there are a handful of nods to the same, including a scene where older Adam cuts the engines to his fighter jet to stealthily fall behind an opponent and another where young Adam refers to older Adam as Red Leader. Nothing is overly explicit, but eagle-eyed viewers will likely notice a few, especially if you happen to be of the Gen-X persuasion.

"The Adam Project" has a surprising amount of heart. More cynical viewers might find it unearned, but from my perspective, it all flowed naturally. From dealing with bullies to reconciling with a parent and risking it all for your kids, triumphing over adversity feels well earned. Not everything is perfect, but it doesn't have to be.

In a similar way, "The Adam Project" isn't perfect, but it doesn't have to be. This isn't a film that's trying to be an award-winning drama. It's an adventure that evokes the feelings of wonder, joy, and discovery that were common among blockbusters of the 1980s, while managing to avoid overt nostalgia.

"The Adam Project" is the movie equivalent of comfort food, and it's a solid choice for a family movie night.

Score: 8.0/10

"The Adam Project" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 1 hour and 46 minutes. It is available to stream now on Netflix.

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