The Adam Project

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Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell in The Adam Project.
Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell in The Adam Project.
Photo: Doane Gregory/Netflix


Adam Project




4/5 Stars


After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self on a mission to save the future.


It's Friday night, and mentally you're prepared for a dumb sci-fi popcorn movie with the witty Ryan Reynolds talking smack with a mini-version of himself. Instead, by the end of it, you have finished almost all the tissues in your house and are emotionally floored by a deep dive into grief and its effect on one's life.

The trailers have sold an absolute lie when it comes to Netflix's The Adam Project - a movie that could have been just another churn of the stream machine. But somewhere along its almost 10-year development hell (that initially had Tom Cruise as the star?), a heart-filled story was born that balances Reynolds' hilarious strengths with the gut-wrenching question: Who would you go back in time for?

At its core, the plot revolves around 12-year-old Adam, who just lost his father. While suspended from school, he encounters his future self Big Adam - a time-travelling pilot that still hasn't quite dealt with his father's death. Pursued by a greedy time-travel corporation, they have to survive long enough to figure out a grand conspiracy that could change everything.

How the time travel exactly works in this universe doesn't really make sense, but it does come with some really slick tech designs and mechanics and fun fight sequences clearly inspired by Star Wars' iconic lightsabre brawls and some superhero callbacks. Overall the graphics are unique and very well done, so if you're in it for the sci-fi adventure, you'll be much pleased.

However, there's so much more to this film than meets the jaded eye. The Ryan Reynolds-factor is, in essence, doubled as his wisecracks are replicated in a mini-version of himself, played by the very sweet Walker Scobell. The script took great pains to make you believe they are the same person, and Scobell hit his jokes with the same finesse that has made Reynolds famous. The humour is very much on par with any other Ryan Reynolds adventures - perhaps objectively better because of its more dramatic elements. Somehow, director Shawn Levy and the scriptwriters dragged an emotional range out of Reynolds and his young co-star I would never have expected.

The first hint of this is when older Adam talks to his mom in a bar, and the feelings will hit you like a freight train and never stop. Throughout the movie, we are presented with two versions of grief juxtaposed against each other - one that is still fresh and raw, the other one an old wound that has distorted his memories of the one he lost. Both are still hurting but in different ways, and it provides an apt avenue for an exploration of grief you would not expect to find in this film.

This is further solidified by Adam's father, played by everyone's favourite nerd Mark Ruffalo. He isn't just some ethereal lost parent that the audience is expected to care about despite never having real contact with them. The film lets us experience him in ultimate dad mode, and it's a travesty that it took this long for Ruffalo and Reynolds to be in a movie together. They are on-screen gold - not just for the jokes but also for more meaningful moments. Even with Zoe Saldanha's brief appearance as Adam's future wife, we learn to care about her character very quickly, and your emotional investment is paid off in the end - just another testament to the brilliant writing.

The Adam Project was a movie that came out of nowhere with very little hype, but it deserves a lot more warranted attention than Levy and Reynolds's previous jaunt together in Free Guy. This is what a family film should look like, dealing with the hard truths cushioned by a fun adventure. It's a movie for anyone who has felt the sting of grief and would give anything to travel back in time to see a loved one again. It offers a sort of closure and acceptance of what you can't change and reminds us to hold on to the good memories instead.


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