‘The Adam Project’ Review: Sometimes Just Let Ryan Reynolds be Ryan Reynolds

In a world full of Ryan Reynolds led sci-fi action films, The Adam Project does enough to just barely rise above the others in the genre but also manages to provide a heartwarming yet tragic look at fatherhood, time, and loss.

Shawn Levy’s latest directorial outing takes a hard look at fatherhood through the lens of time travel. While Ryan Reynolds and his young co-star Walker Scobell—playing a younger version of the same character—share incredible chemistry and they are both the main reason to watch this film. Reynolds’ older Adam is an angry man, who believes the cause of his pain in the future lies somewhere in the past while searching for his presumed dead wife and confronting his trauma regarding his deceased father. In the most tragic scene of the film, young Adam lays some hard truths on old Adam and clarifies his misconceptions about their father. It’s a reminder to anyone who had a hard childhood to remember that there must surely be good times as well.

Speaking of fathers, it’s only until the third act that Mark Ruffalo finally arrives to join his son (sons?) in stopping time travel from ever being created. However, his role goes wasted and he seems to only exist in order to provide overly scientific dialogue to an already scientifically dense screenplay. Here’s a tip for Hollywood when making time travel stories, keep it simple. Back to the Future has a simple premise; time travel exists, boy goes back in time, wreaks havoc on the timeline but manages to fix everything while introducing the world to rock ‘n’ roll. Follow the simple formula and you can’t go wrong.

While much isn’t made about Reynolds’ version of what Adam has gone through other than the loss of his wife, it makes allusion to the turbulent and rebellious years that seem to have wreaked havoc on his poor mother played by Jennifer Garner. While a full 13 Going on 30 would have merely been fan service, Garner tragically envelopes the role of a single mother looking to put her life back together while her son grows more and more angry. Garner will go to bat for her son at a moment’s notice but chastises him for getting into fights and losing focus in school all the while trying to renew her search for love. 

In the midst of this seemingly macho adventure is Catherine Keener who plays the role of the greedy and diabolical villain and Zoe Saldaña who is the presumed dead wife of Reynolds. In one of the films sparse action scenes, Saldaña arrives to save Reynolds and Scobell but ultimately, Saldaña’s role also goes underused but manages to be more bad ass than Reynolds as she has to repeatedly bail him out of trouble. Also the victim of under-utilization is Keener as her role gets some of the corniest dialogue even uttered by a villain and plays into the trope of the individual who goes back in time simply to enrich themselves and gain power. It is a tired trope that needs to be retired from the genre entirely.

While The Adam Project is heavy on the laughs and sci-fi spectacle, its heart is rendered floundering thanks to the uneven use of its stars but if there’s anything we can expect from a Ryan Reynolds film it’s quick wit and entertainment.

VERDICT: 3 “lightsabers” out of 5

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

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