Shawn Levy’s Netflix film “The Adam Project”, which was released on this Friday, does not have much surprise for us. Although it is entertaining to some degree thanks to the game efforts from its main cast members, the movie does not bring anything particularly new to its genre territory except some mumbo-jumbo about the futuristic technique in the story, and the result is another safe and colorless product you can expect from Netflix.
After the opening scene set in 2050, the movie moves back to 2020, and we are introduced to a 12-year-old boy named Adam Reed (Walker Scobell). While he and his single mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner) are still emotionally struggling with his scientist father’s death in 2018, Adam often gets bullied by a couple of bigger kids, and that has been the constant source of headache for his mother, who has tried hard to maintain their cozy residence located in the middle of a local forest in addition to earning their living outside.
When Adam is going through the first day of his latest suspension from his school, something seems to crash onto a spot not so far from his house, so he goes outside for finding what really happens, and then he comes across a man who clearly needs some help due to his physical injury. As letting this dude into the house and then listening to what he says, Adam quickly intuits that this dude is none other than his older self from the future, and he is certainly excited by this unbelievable situation.
Anyway, it soon turns out that Older Adam (Ryan Reynolds) does not come to 2020 for merely meeting his younger self. There is a big issue which he believes he can fix before it is too late, and, as already shown from the opening scene, he is being pursued by a bunch of bad guys sent by a certain figure who is incidentally associated with Adam’s dead father. We accordingly get several action scenes as expected, but I must point out that the result depends on CGI so much that it is a bit hard to care about what is being at stake for Adam and his older self or some other characters in the story including a crucial supporting character played by Zoe Saldaña.
Meanwhile, the movie generates some interest from how Older Adam helps his younger self a bit despite their awkward interactions. He surely comes to step forward when his younger self happens to be bullied again, and he also gives a little pep talk to Ellie when they happen to encounter each other at one point. Even though they still bicker with each other at times, Adam and his older self come to discern that they are not so different from each other despite that big gap between them in terms of time and space, and they certainly stick together in front of that main villain of the story.
It is not much of a spoiler to tell you that Adam and Older Adam subsequently go back to 2018 for meeting their father, because, as many of you already know, their father is played by Mark Ruffalo. One of the few refreshing aspects of the film is that, mainly thanks to his lifelong academic interest in the physics of time travel, it does not take much time for Adam’s father to accept that the two different figures in front of him do come from the future, and Ruffalo has some little fun with his character’s neurotic but understandable concern over many possible dangers of time travel.
In the end, the story expectedly culminates to the climactic action sequence packed with lots of flashes and noises, and that is where the movie becomes less fun and entertaining than before. Although it does not lack substance in case of action, the movie is rather bland and unimaginative in case of handling its ever-intriguing science fiction story promise, and that is the main reason why the sentimental finale feels perfunctory instead of being genuinely poignant.
At least, the movie works in case of the rocky relationship development between Adam and Older Adam. Ryan Reynolds, who also participated in the production of the film along with Levy, is mostly on his usual sarcastic attitude he has honed since “Deadpool” (2016), and I must confess that that was a bit tiresome for me from time to time because I am not a big fan of “Deadpool” at all, but he and young actor Walker Scobell complement each other well on the whole. As ably swinging back and forth between drama and comedy together, they carry the film to the end, and their effortless comic chemistry on the screen is certainly the best thing in the movie.
Besides Ruffalo and Saldaña, the two other notable cast members in the film are not utilized that well to my disappointment. Jennifer Garner manages to overcome her thankless role with her warm natural presence, but Catherine Keener is unfortunately stuck in her bland supporting character, and her de-aged appearance later in the story somehow took me back to how she was much more fun and interesting in her saucy Oscar-nominated supporting turn in “Being John Malkovich” (1999).
In conclusion, “The Adam Project” is not as bad as I feared at first, but it is not so distinctive or impressive, and that is a major letdown considering several major Hollywood talents gathered here in the film. I do not regret spending my free time on this passable piece of work, but my mind moved onto the next thing to watch right after the movie was over, and that is all, folks.