Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldaña
Run Time: 106 mins
The Adam Project is the second collaboration between director Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds. They first collaborated on last year’s Free Guy, a film that received critical acclaim but I found it to be a bland disappointment. The Adam Project is more of a straightforward sci-fi, which Free Guy also skirted with but in a more fantastical setting. This film follows Ryan Reynolds as a pilot from the future who attempts to time-travel back to 2018 to save his wife, Laura (Zoe Saldaña). Unfortunately, things go rather wrong and he ends up in 2022. There, he meets his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell), who is trying to come to terms with the death of his father (Mark Ruffalo) one year prior. He is bullied at school and has a rocky relationship with his mother (Jennifer Garner). The Adams are soon attacked by the leader of the future dystopian world, Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) and have to team together to protect the future from her dictatorship.
The Adam Project is a much better effort this time around and the first half of the film has a lot going for it. Levy assuredly establishes and develops the characters and it is quite moving in places, especially the relationship between the younger Adam and his mother and how they are both trying to process the loss of their patriarchal figure. Reynold’s Adam touchingly attempts to step in to repair the relationship and set it on a better course so that his younger counterpart doesn’t live the same life of regret.
The second half of the film is a far more conventional science fiction piece and adheres to many of the genre codes and conventions. There’s a reasonably kinetic chase sequence mid-way through the film but Levy leans too far into the realm of visual effects for the climax. The film is visually interesting, except for its climax and it’s typically clinically yet warmly lensed by Tobias Schliesser.
Reynolds plays his usual self, which is fine, and luckily the film doesn’t resort to trying to coast on his humour, which is hit-and-miss. Scobell is excellent as the younger Adam and really sells the fed-up and down teenager. Garner has some nice moments too, although Ruffalo is sadly underused and not given a lot to work with. Keener doesn’t fare particularly well in the villain role and is far better suited to subtle roles, such as her excellent performances in Sicario 2: Soldado or Get Out.
The Adam Project is far better than expected and is best in its first half where it explores and tackles the broken family dynamic in an interesting way. I cared less for its second half, which gets increasingly visual effects heavy and formulaic. Following the release of the film, it’s been announced that Levy will re-team with Reynolds again for the long-awaited Deadpool 3. Whilst I am hoping for the best, I’m sceptical with Levy in the director’s chair as his career so far suggests he is better suited to more family-oriented fare.