The idea that the world is speeding up is, for the most part, a lie that people tell themselves to deny that they are getting old. Even on screen, a perceived speed-up can be an illusion: yes, an average 21st century film has more and faster edits than a film made before 1980, thanks to technological developments and the rise of “MTV style”. “. But the back-and-forth in a 21st-century Marvel movie isn’t any faster than a goofy 1940s comedy. (It might be slower, actually.) So while science comedy -Netflix fiction The Adam Project may sound like an Amblin Entertainment movie played at 1.5 speed to viewers who grew up watching those movies, the reasons for this go beyond the cruel distortions of time.
One of the main factors behind the film’s rat-a-tat energy is star Ryan Reynolds: He’s Deadpool, for god’s sake. Quick sarcasm is the cornerstone of his brand. Writer-director Shawn Levy has previously collaborated with Reynolds (on 2021’s free guy) and shot eight episodes of stranger things, so combining the two is a logical next step. When Levy and Reynolds – both co-producers on the film – play to their strengths, The Adam Project is fun and enjoyable sci-fi fun that produces a few good laughs. But at times when undiluted sweetness is required, the film’s flippant writing stands out in a negative way.
The film opens in 2050, just outside Earth’s orbit, where Adam (Reynolds) – a classic type of “hotshot pilot who plays by his own rules” – prepares to fly a time-traveling jet . Adam is desperate to return in 2018, for reasons that quickly become clear. But he accidentally crash-lands in 2022, with a bullet in his side and a bio-bonded ship that won’t start until his wound heals. (The movie is full of “Okay, I guess” gimmicks like that.) So he bursts into the backyard of his 12-year-old self, a smaller, more asthmatic, but equally smart version of Adam. (Walker Scobell).
Adult Adam needs Young Adam’s DNA to start his ship. Young Adam needs adult Adam to help him solve some problems related to the recent death of their father Louis (Mark Ruffalo), a brilliant but neglectful physicist. So the two embarked on a madcap adventure through space (well, just across town) and time (but only, like, five years) to stop 2018’s Louis from achieving the breakthroughs. scientists who will make time travel a reality. Sidelines with Zoe Saldaña as adult Adam’s spunky wife Laura and Jennifer Garner as Adams’ predictable mother Ellie imply that women serve as moderating influences for Adam at both ages. But for the most part, this story is more about Adam’s relationship with his father — and himself.
Reynolds and Scobell have winning chemistry as two Adamses, coordinating their body language and bouncing playful insults at each other throughout the film. (A moment when the two laugh as Reynolds “farts” his bullet wound is surprisingly sweet.) The idea of a child meeting his adult self or an adult traveling back in time to right the wrongs of his childhood movies — including 13 In progress 30, another movie that cast Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo as a couple. The Adam Projectthe four-person editorial team is hyper-aware of this fact, just as they are clearly aware that Adam is fighting with a weapon that looks a lot like a lightsaber, against a villain whose plan to create a terminator future resembles Biff Tanner’s plan in Back to the future part II.
Levy handles these references in a more lightweight way than, say, Loan player one, Nevertheless. The Adam Projectseems to be more of making a movie in the spirit of an ’80s family sci-fi adventure rather than throwing off public goodwill towards pre-existing films. That being said, Levy features some action in a forest straight out of HEY, and young Adam wears a puffy Marty McFly vest throughout the film. But again, these winks are used with the intention of creating the same kind of wonder in children today as Spielberg’s films did 40 years ago, while nodding to parents of 80s kids sitting next to them on sofa. And there are moments specifically designed to delight viewers around young Adam’s age, like the scene where he guns down a group of robotic baddies with drones controlled by his VR headset. If it was 1989, it would have been a Nintendo Power Glove.
It is perhaps self-evident that The Adam Project glides on the paradoxes of time travel, acknowledging that the two Adams hang out should unraveling the space-time continuum, but never really explaining why it doesn’t. (Primer it doesn’t.) That’s forgivable, given that the film moves too quickly and cheerfully to dwell on the scientific puzzles.
But it’s indicative of how The Adam Project loses its grip when the stakes get a little higher. Catherine Keener is oddly cast as the film’s big bad, for example, playing her character neither as an over-the-top supervillain nor a believable threat. (Netflix also reveals part of it Irish technology to put Keener’s face on a body double in scenes where she interacts with her younger self.) And a romantic interlude between Garner and Ruffalo is a bit too ironic for its own good.
An emotional note The Adam Project hits perfectly is dead-dad schmaltz – again, unsurprisingly, given the palette of influences Levy is working with here. Family stories are the hallmark of 80s children’s adventure films lovingly recreated in The Adam Project, and it’s worth noting that the film slows down, both in pacing and dialogue, for the sentimental scenes between father and son. When it comes to more adult emotions — say, corporate greed or romantic love — the film can’t help but undermine them with defensive sarcasm. But his exploration of childhood wounds comes from a more serious place.
The years pass faster as we get older, but the wounds we suffered as children remain frozen until we fix them. The form of therapy presented in The Adam Project is obviously impossible, and more than a little simplistic. But in a film that rolls out of the gate with such dizzying speed, it hits in unexpected ways when it comes to healing Adam’s inner child — or outer child, as the case may be. So during The Adam Project can do HEY seem slow, his heart is in the same vulnerable place.
The Adam Project debuts on Netflix on March 11.