Sometimes it takes a little time for movies to gain some traction, even for an A-lister such as Keanu Reeves. Case in point, Reeves’ 2018 sci-fi thriller Replicas, which is finally finding some love as it sits at #7 on HBO Max’s most-watched list.
Replicas stars Keanu Reeves as William Foster, a biomedical research scientist. He and his partner, fellow biomedical research scientist Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch), are attempting to transfer the mind of a dead soldier into an android that possesses super strength. The android is codenamed Subject 345.
William is the master of synthetic biology while also specializing in mapping the mind’s neural pathways. Ed, on the other hand, his specialty is that of reproductive human cloning.
William is able to capture and transfer the soldier’s neural map into the android, but the experiment fails when the soldier wakes in horror at its android body. The soldier destroys the body, killing himself once again. This failure prompts William and Ed’s boss, Jones to warn them that if they can’t get Subject 345 to work, the project’s shareholders will shut it down. To escape it all for a few days, William decides to take his family, Mona (Alice Eve) and their three children, Sophie, Matt, and Zoe, on a boating trip. On the way, William’s entire family is killed in a car accident.
Distraught and rightfully so, William somehow convinces Ed to bring him the necessary equipment to resurrect his family. William will remove his family’s neural maps while Ed will produce the clones. With the task complete, he finds he now has a horrible choice to make. They have only three cloning pods, forcing William to sacrifice one of his children. He chooses his youngest, Zoe, erasing her memory from the neural maps of the three he can save.
17 days. That is all William has to figure out how to solve the problem they ran into with the dead soldier. 17 days is the time it takes Ed to develop fully mature replacement clones for William’s family. After that, the bodies begin to decay at a rapid pace. During these 17 days, William removes all evidence of Zoe’s existence around his home, while coming up with cover stories to explain his family’s absence from work and school. William also goes to work on removing the memory of Zoe from his family’s neural maps.
As William is close to completing the neural transfer into his wife, he notices that her central nervous system reacts to his touch. William then realizes what went wrong with the dead soldier – the soldier’s mind expected a connection to a biological body and not an android. William knows he can solve this problem by programming the neural map to think it is looking at a biological body.
William gets his family back. Or does he? It doesn’t look good when Jones finally approaches both William and Ed, telling them he knows what they’ve been up to. He then informs the pair that the “shareholders” are actually the U.S. Government (no surprise there) and that all loose ends need to be taken care of. By loose ends, Jones means William’s newly cloned family.
The premise of Replicas sounds intriguing. A sci-fi thriller about Keanu Reeves as a man who lost everything but has the knowledge to get it all back. A story about how far one man would go to hold onto the things he loves most. A story about brutal choice with ultimate gain. Somehow, none of this transferred to the big screen.
Jeffrey Nachmanoff directed Replicas from a script written by Chad St. John and to say the film underperformed at the box office would be another one of those “under” words – understatement. Nachmanoff was given a $30 million budget for Replicas and the film “underwhelmed” with a $9.3 million take at the box office.
Two more low points need to be singled out. Replicas started its run with a $2.4 million take, making it the worst opening in Keanu Reeves’ career. The film then dropped 81.5% its second weekend, making it the ninth-worst second-week drop at the box office of all time.
As for Keanu Reeves, Replicas is probably nothing more than a tiny blip in what has become a very profitable career. Reeves followed up this bomb with the smash hit, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, a film that more than made up for the lack of box office pull from Replicas.
From River’s Edge to Bill & Ted (three times over) to Speed and Dracula, from The Matrix franchise and John Wick, Keanu Reeves can be forgiven for a flop or two. Thankfully, Reeves is putting Replicas in his rearview as on tap is The Matrix Resurrections to be followed closely by John Wick: Chapter 4 and John Wick: Chapter 5.
Don’t let all this negativity surrounding Keanu Reeves in Replicas scare you off. It is, as we’ve mentioned, climbing the most-watched HBO Max chart, so fans may have something better to say about it. Tee it up and let us know what you think.