With its fairly decent Hollywood pedigree and promising premise, I had high hopes that “The Adam Project” wouldn’t be just another throwaway Netflix film. Even with an experienced action director (Shawn Levy) and a talented and charismatic cast, this one feels lazy and repetitive. What’s really disappointing is that there was obviously a better movie somewhere in there, but dumb action sequences outmuscle the more successful parts of the story.
There’s something so appealing about the idea of traveling back in time to talk face-to-face with your younger self, and Adam (Ryan Reynolds) does just that after accidentally crash landing in 2022. Adam is from the future, and he would like a chance to save the planet from what’s to come. He teams up with himself at 12 years old (Walker Scobell) for a high-stakes mission, enlisting help from his father Louis (Mark Ruffalo), mom Ellie (Jennifer Garner), and wife Laura (Zoe Saldana) along the way.
There isn’t much story here, and the plot is as basic as it gets. When a movie plays with time travel, the writers need to have a well-thought-out explanation for the different timelines that cross the future and the past. This narrative is a free for all. It’s ridiculous and implausible, which is admittedly the case for the majority of sci-fi stories, but the film’s flaws are amplified.
It also feels like two movies rolled into one, and they are at odds with each other. There’s a lot of mindless action with borderline incompetent CGI, which overshadows the more effective part of the movie: the heartwarming family story and its appealing, if sometimes brainy, science fiction. It’s difficult to enjoy a movie that tossed its most compelling parts aside in favor of the most basic.
The performances are appropriate for the material, and fans of Reynolds and his smart-mouth shtick will be satisfied because there are no surprises. Scobell is believable as his younger version too, perfecting his body movements and irritating, sarcastic tone. Once Ruffalo shows up the movie improves tenfold (if only briefly). I wish he’d been given more to do.
“The Adam Project” is a mediocre coming-of-age tale that relies too heavily on tepid sci-fi action to keep its story moving. It’s a shame because it could’ve been so much more.