Watching The Adam Project is like watching someone fall down stairs. The movie stands steadily, stumbles, picks itself back up, and repeats that same process until the film is so exhausted with itself that it doesn’t bother to pull itself together.
Ryan Reynolds reunites with Free Guy director Shawn Levy for this seemingly slick sci-fi flick featuring Reynolds, a time traveler named Adam on a personal mission. Along the way though, he overshoots his timeline and winds up partnered with his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell). The film may be loaded with special effects and fight scenes, but the dynamic between the Adams is supposed to be the real driving force. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t work for me.
Reynolds pulls out the same quippy schtick audiences have grown accustomed to (whether we like it or not). Lately, audiences are willing to call the Deadpool actor out on his repetitive performances. For me, I find Reynolds usual routine really funny so I never had an issue (see: Red Notice). However, The Adam Project is where I draw the line. The schtick is inappropriate here as future Adam’s snark undermines the action or any interesting discoveries he makes with time travel.
Doubling down on the annoying traits is Scobell’s precocious performance as young Adam. Scobell is required to do an impression of Ryan Reynolds, and his ability to mimic is pretty impressive. But while this may seem like a good idea on paper, the actual execution doesn’t do any favours for the movie or for Reynolds. What started as a breakout comedic repertoire twenty years ago in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder has now been distilled to an effortless impression by a 12-year-old – the schtick has jumped the shark. Ryan Reynolds either needs to find a new act or take a break from it.
Not only does the audience receive this tired sarcasm in stereo, but The Adam Project fails to settle in either as a family film with rounded edges or a rough-and-tumble action flick for teens. Levy rushes into the relationship between the Adams and cuts to would-be climaxes instead of building up to them. There was more build up and suspense in Levy’s Date Night.
Considering how wide-eyed and innocent the film seems to be, the pacing could be a suggestion towards wanting to move the story along to keep kids interested. But then, spurts of sharp language will invade a scene and make the audience reevaluate whether young viewers should really be watching it. I don’t even feel comfortable telling mature audiences to feed their curiosities by watching it because the convoluted time travel plot device eventually doesn’t make sense, which really grinds against the hammy attempts at sentimentality between old Adam, young Adam, and their late father Louis (Mark Ruffalo).
The Adam Project seems like it was made with the same sincere intent that J.J. Abrams had when he made Super 8. The difference between those two movies comes down to assurance. Abrams knew he was making a love letter to the early sci-fi work of Steven Spielberg. The Adam Project knows what it wants to offer audiences, but it has no clue what it wants to work towards.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie