“After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self for a mission to save the future.”

Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett
Staring: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana, Catherine Keener
Release Date: March 11, 2022
IMDB

I have waited to write this review for a long time. What more can I say about The Adam Project that has not been said already? I am not always trying to break the mold or be a crazy maker of takes, but nothing about The Adam Project is wholly original in its story or in its emotional heft.

The best way to sum up The Adam Project is that if you are a young teenage kid, more notably boy, then The Adam Project is a knock your socks off action, science-fiction adventure. If you have gone through middle school, then The Adam Project is a run-of-the-mill science fiction story that uses an actor’s titular trait to the nth degree and relies so heavily on it that it weighs down the rest of the movie.

Young Adam Reed (Walker Scobell) is a 12 year old dealing with bullies, a dead dad, and a mom (Jennifer Garner) who is struggling to regather herself after her partner has left her. Life is not the best, but it takes an interesting twist when older Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) crash lands in the forest and breaks into their home. The young lad is quick to realize that they are one and indeed the same, but he doesn’t have time to truly comprehend it when older Reed is attacked by futuristic soldiers.

Together the Adam Reed duo must do everything they can to stop an evil women by the name of Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener). Older Adam wants to enact revenge on Maya because she has hurt him on a truly personal level. Younger Adam gets more involved and invested when its discovered that he and his older must travel further back in time to visit their father (Mark Ruffalo) in order to prevent future struggles from occurring.

In the end, can young Adam Reed grow up and appreciate where he is in life and can older Adam Reed realize that mistakes and moments of the past can not be undone, but only learned from. Can their father Louis come to terms that the work he has dedicated himself towards accept that it will not be used for good in the future? Family bonds are tested with witty barbs and intermingled science-fiction action as The Adam Project tests the limits of how deep family relationships can be entrenched over time.

Ryan Reynolds. Oh, Ryan.

I want this on the record that I do like Ryan Reynolds. I enjoy him in almost every movie he is in, and if the movie bad, it is not his fault.

The Adam Project is another movie where Reynolds is playing a character down on his luck on in a tight spot and he must find the best possible solution for himself while also deploying one-liners after one-liners whenever possible. This is his thing, and he is very, very good at it. I get that.

I think I maybe speaking just for myself, but I am getting a little tired of him. He plays the same part in The Adam Project since his Deadpool (2016) came out. We have outliers like Life (2017), but you’d be hard pressed to not find him as the snappy-mouthed hard-to-dislike character in any movie since then.

I am being hard on an actor that has found his path and has travelled it for millions. I know that is not really fair of me, so if you are reading this Mr. Reynolds, I understand that I am just talking out of my ass. If you (still speaking to Mr. Reynolds) did a movie like Buried (2010) again, I think everyone would get excited again. I am going to get off my soapbox now and acknowledge I don’t know nearly enough about this business as I should.

Young and old Adam bonding

The biggest surprise of the movie is Walker Scobell, the actor who plays Young Adam. He is able to match wits with older Adam fairly well, and young Adam gets all the memorable lines comparing what is happening to Star Wars and other science fiction adventures. It is like he is in the know. The Adam Project was Scobell’s first movie role, but he is on a very good trajectory for an impressive young career. He is in the new movie Secret Headquarters (2022) which came out last week on Paramount+. He has also just been cast in the highly anticipated Percy Jackson And The Olympians (2024), which comes out on Disney+ in 2024. Things are looking up for Scobell. Glad he met the mark in The Adam Project.

Seeing Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner in a movie is really never a bad thing. They may be part of some not so great movies, but they are never the worst part about them. If I am wrong, please feel free to let me know.

Garner has the emotional heft of being the single mom raising a young boy in a world without her husband. Not a fun job, specially with a kid who is frustrated. She gets to act happy in some scenes taking place in the past when the Reed trio get together in the past, so at least she doesn’t need to seem a bit forlorn the entire time. Her best moment in The Adam Project is when she runs into older Adam Reed in the bar and he is bestowing upon her cryptic praise in a moment where she needs it most. A tender scene that is well down with a payoff of a nice running joke.

I think this is the first movie I have seen Garner in since Peppermint (2019), where she played a revenge seeking avenger in the streets. A bit of a different trajectory for her, but a movie I did not had as much as others. Seeing how it is my genre of choice, I gave Peppermint a “C-“, which all things considered is not too shabby.

Mark Ruffalo appears in The Adam Project late. In the last third of it. He is a very smart professor who is confronted by his son(s), has to tell them they are causing irreputable damage, but then agrees to help them just in the nick of time and together the three of them save the world from evil and greed.

The character of Louis Reed is very formulaic. He hits all the beats, crosses all the t’s and walks on the straight line the script has laid out for him. Nothing wrong with his performance at all. It is just good to see Ruffalo on screen. You give me Garner and Ruffalo in a movie, I am at least going to be entertained when I watch it.

Bad guy must look menacing over desk

One of the major flaws of The Adam Project is its villain, Maya Sorian. Played by Catherine Keener, Maya is a time-traveling business women who betrayed Louis and made a boat load of money and will do anything in her means to keep herself on the path toward success. For a movie that is catered towards teenagers, making the villain of a movie a business women who likes to fly ships is not best attention grabber. Sorian does not have a lot to play with in terms of her part because her most menacing moments are behind a steering wheel in a ship. Sure she is looking down at people when she has that viewpoint, but never is she in the forefront of people’s minds to keep an eye out for. When the character of Sorian pops up on the screen, it is more of a “oh yea, that’s right” feeling.

Can’t wrap up the cast discussion without nodding ours heads to Zoe Saldana for getting that paycheck again in a part that no one will hate. She looks great, kicks ass, motivates our hero and probably spent less than a week filming. That is called efficiency and simplicity.

The most played out aspect of The Adam Project is its father-son, family dynamic exploration. It’s a hallmark of many a teenage adventure story; the youthful angst against the parents (alive or dead) because they deem their life unfair but in reality the kid doesn’t know the half (sometimes not of their own fault) of what their guardians are going through. It is true that it takes years to understand the relationship one has with one’s parents, and it is a continually evolving thing. The Adam Project literally pins the different ages of understanding against one another, allowing for multiple different father-son relationships to guide the light to a happy ending.

The premise means well. Writers Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin and Jennifer Flackkett are writing this movie to touch on the classic idea. Can we just leave out the have a catch in the yard bit? The directly on-the-nose triangle of generations partaking in the classic 1900s dad-son bonding exercise?

Am I being to hard on a movie that was not made for me? Possibly. Was The Adam Project made to be a Friday evening family fun-time movie with the kids and everyone bundled on the couch? Most likely. Speaking strictly for me, I don’t have kids, and I don’t have a family yet, so I am watching The Adam Project on the train and in my living room alone on a Sunday afternoon. My priorities aren’t there yet. Perhaps when I have kids, or if I time travel back to when I was 13, I will be more amendable to a simple theme like this.

The Adam Project is not going to get a wholehearted recommendation from me. Is it the worst thing I have seen this year? By no means is it that bad or disappointing. Is it something I want to watch again? Not in the near future whatsoever. But can I see myself in the future putting The Adam Project on with a kid up late at night and he/she wants to watch a movie and stay up past their bedtime but they are still to young to watch what I want to? Yes, probably. But I am not there yet.

STANKO RATING: C- (2.5/5 Stars)


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