The Adam Project Review: Ryan Reynolds Ruins A Generic Sci-Fi Slog

By Drew Dietsch | 2 months ago

the adam project review header ryan reynolds

The Adam Project has a tried-and-true but potentially compelling sci-fi idea at its core: what if your adult self and your kid self were able to meet? What would their relationship be like? What kind of things would you try and fix about your past, and could your younger self actually help your adult self become a better person? There are plenty of thought-provoking and emotional avenues to travel with such a concept, and to The Adam Project‘s credit, it actually manages to hit some moving beats in these regards. An example would be when the adult Adam (Ryan Reynolds) gets a chance to talk to his mother (Jennifer Garner) in a bar without her knowing that he’s her son from the future. It’s a scene where all the high-speed quipping and laborious plotting takes a backseat to actual character stakes.

Sadly, those storytelling highs are few and far between in The Adam Project. It’s certain that the folks who love Ryan Reynolds’ brand of rapid-fire ridiculousness will find nothing but more to like here, but his schtick has become tiresome and detrimental to many of the films he’s attached to (Reynolds is a producer on this so he’s particularly unhinged). The smarmy, snarky barbs and jokes seem to never stop and it robs the movie of any shot at establishing a reason to get invested. That kind of energy can work with an irreverent character like Deadpool, but seeing that just be the same performance in every Ryan Reynolds movie has become irksome at best and downright repellant at worst. It’s a far cry from the kind of range and depth we’ve seen in movies like The Voices. When Reynolds is allowed to cut loose, his worst instincts seem to take over.

He’s not helped by the fact that The Adam Project falls victim to the same bland and generic sci-fi style that seems to be prevalent among many other streaming sci-fi features. Whether it’s The Tomorrow War or Outside the Wire, these excursions into a technologically advanced world all have the innovative design of a Dixie cup. Ships, suits of armor, and weaponry all feel like pre-made assets bought online. Nothing in the sci-fi design is even trying to create something iconic or memorable. The blandness on display is only heightened by director Shawn Levy‘s rote style. Action scenes feel pieced together by algorithms and there isn’t a single striking piece of cinema in the whole movie. One issue with streaming dominance is that productions feel they are allowed to look less impressive since they know they’ll primarily be seen on smaller screens. When that is applied to bombastic genre fare like The Adam Project, it just makes the whole endeavor immediately forgettable.

the adam project ryan reynolds kid

What also hurts The Adam Project is its structure and pacing ethos. This is a movie that wants to keep whizzing by from the word go. It doesn’t want you to have a second to really consider anything that’s happening, so it keeps bombarding you with Ryan Reynolds barbs and exposition dumps. And because the movie decides to leave a lot of plot points explained instead of shown, there are crucial emotional beats that carry no weight. Two central characters played by Zoe SaldaƱa and Mark Ruffalo are talked about a whole bunch but we only get to spend relatively brief moments with them in the actual story. And when a movie casts Catherine Keener as its central villain and she is treated like an afterthought, you know that a real cinematic crime has happened. If you can’t make Catherine Keener pop as a baddie, you need to go back to film school. And the less said about Walker Scobell’s attempt at mirroring Ryan Reynolds’ worst acting attributes, the better.

The Adam Project is boring fodder for the content mill. While it’s not abysmal, it’s kind of worse by being such a flatlined experience. No amount of Ryan Reynolds witticisms can mask the fact that this is a potentially intriguing premise that gets bogged down by everything else it’s doing. In ten years, give this concept the remake treatment but actually treat it with some sense of sincerity instead of just another vehicle for Ryan Reynolds to prove how wacky he likes being while getting paid millions of dollars.


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