Effortlessly combining clever humor, exciting sci-fi action, and a potent dose of heart, Stranger Things and Free Guy director Shawn Levy brings The Adam Project to Netflix in the style of Amblin classics. The Adam Project may fall victim to Netflix’s needless longing to show an entire truncated version of a film in its trailer, but surprises or not, I loved this movie. First set in 2050, we follow jet-pilot Adam (Ryan Reynolds, in his second collaboration with Levy) as he time-travels to find the love of his life, Laura (Zoe Saldana), who has mysteriously vanished. In a fun twist on typical time-travel rules, Adam heads back to 2018, and ends up having to team up with the 12-year-old version of himself (Walker Scobell).
If this already sounds like a doozy, just wait until both versions of Adam are forced to time-travel and team up with their deceased father (three-time Oscar nominee, Mark Ruffalo). It would be enough to make one’s head spin if the rules weren’t so easy to follow—once they return to their subsequent times after restoring the balance, they are destined to reform their memories in a new way affected by the ripple of the changes. Young Adam still feels the pain of his father’s very fresh death, whilst old Adam does not treasure the little he can recollect of his frequently absent dad. The forced union between the trio allows both Adams a window into their father they have never had the chance to grasp.
By now, we all know Ryan Reynolds and his schtick. However, The Adam Project allows Reynolds to play a slightly different alteration on the personality he displays so well. Yes, he is still sassy and sarcastic, but Adam is a guy with a heart of gold who has been harboring years of anger and resentment for his deceased dad. Young Adam admires his muscles and hardened attitude, but Old Adam does not miss the wimpy boy he used to be. Reynolds has great chemistry with Ruffalo, and one can feel the admiration Young Adam has for his future self through Scobell’s equally tangible vibe with his older counterpart. I also loved that Jennifer Garner, who plays Adam’s mom Ellie, is eventually paid her dues as well, being an underappreciated, grieving single parent.
The father/son relationship is what sets The Adam Project apart from other movies of this ilk. Otherwise, it is sort of par for the course. Catherine Keener, an unusual but exciting choice for a villain, is Maya, a wealthy woman who may or may be behind a time-travel conspiracy. She tracks down Adam and company with her various goons. In order to remedy the reality of what will follow—the world becoming an almost Terminator 2: Judgement Day type of grim future—both Adams and Louis, their father, have to come together to prevent time travel from ever being created in the first place. When films deal with time travel, one has an infinite amount of directions to go. Story-wise is the only spot that The Adam Project comes up slightly short, if only for the general predictability of the concept despite the possibilities.
Both iterations of Adam in this movie won me over by the end. Whether old Adam was complaining about his gunshot wound “farting” when he coughs, or how young Adam cannot stop marveling about the hunk of man he will grow into, I had a smile on my face for the majority of the runtime. If Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy were to collaborate for a third time, I would be game to see what they come up with next. Hell, I would even be down for both a Free Guy 2 or The Adam Project 2 considering how easily either would be to sequelize.
The Adam Project jets into a wormhole when it debuts exclusively on Netflix on Friday, March 11th.