Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Jonathan Tropper, T. S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, and Catherine Keener
Cinematographer: Tobias Schliessler
Time traveler and fighter pilot Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) has had his share of love and loss throughout his 30+ years. When someone from his past (and future) threatens to disrupt life itself, he ventures off to year 2018 to set things right. Things don’t go as planned in this time-traveling adventure. After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, Adam must team up with his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell) to embark on a dangerous mission to save the world.
Shawn Levy’s straight-to-Netflix sci-fi feature is a heartfelt journey for the whole family. It serves its target audience a fresh take on time and space with a side of humor and delight. This action adventure does just enough to sell itself on the premise of time travel mayhem alone. But underneath it all lies a story about self-reflection, learning from past mistakes, and taking advantage of time while we have it.
The film is centered around saving the world, but Adam Reed has a lot more riding on the success of this mission. Everything we know about his character is revealed in due time, but Adam’s journey towards rediscovering himself through his past is the perfect way to spend a Friday night. It certainly isn’t how Adam thought his world-saving escapade would go. But thanks to his innocent yet wiser younger self, you’re never too old to learn from past mistakes.
That’s a lot to unpack for a typical Netflix flick, but the script doesn’t shy away from these appropriate lessons. It also comes at a time in which the world could use a reminder on the importance of appreciating life. And because of that, the end result makes for a sweet time with beautiful messages embedded in this family-friendly adventure. These messages and emotional moments make frequent appearances throughout The Adam Project’s script too. When Reynolds sees people in his immediate family, there’s an intense emotional aura that overtakes the film. And it may be highly welcomed for viewers after seeing how it’s incorporated in these amusing yet warmly riveting moments.
But while these moments never overstay their welcome, there were some missed opportunities throughout the film. The two most important women in Adam’s life, for example, are his mother (Jennifer Garner) and his wife (Zoe Saldana). Unfortunately, audiences won’t get a chance to see them interact on screen. Was this intentional to play into the notion that interference could result in drastic timeline results? Maybe. But the script leaned into disaster territory anyway. A little extra for the benefit of an emotional punch wouldn’t have hurt.
Stylistically, Levy’s direction and Schliessler’s cinematography aren’t doing the film any favors either. Nothing quite matches the energy that the actors put into this daring script. But it’s a testament to just how well the cast worked together. Reynolds and Scobell, who play Adam at different stages of his life, have a great chemistry. Meeting a younger version of myself conceptually sounds like a nightmare, but the two leads play off each other beautifully. And while the other cast members don’t have a fair enough amount of screentime to compare, they do a nice job with their respective tasks.
Ultimately, The Adam Project is an adventure worth watching this weekend. You may come looking for a high-action sci-fi journey, which is exactly what you’ll get. But there are some sweet moments of reflection with a script that focuses on reconnecting with your past that will make you stay and enjoy the ride.
Check out the trailer for The Adam Project — now on Netflix!