The Adam Project review – a glossy repackaging

By Marc Miller
Published: March 11, 2022 (Last updated: January 21, 2023)
Netflix film The Adam Project


The Adam Project is a glossy amalgamation of much better action-adventure fare.

This review of the Netflix film The Adam Project does not contain spoilers.

The Adam Project starts with your typical Ryan Reynolds snark cannon. As he tries to outmaneuver his boss, Maya Sorian (the great Catherine Keener), he gives her a couple of those classic “Reynoldsisms” in a short period.

It’s impressive he has enough time to fly the jet and come up with pithy retorts. But they try, and boy, do they ever try, to fit in as many as they can in a short time. A

lmost everything about The Adam Project, Reynolds, and director Shawn Levy (Free Guy) feels forced and unnatural. And when the science-fiction film does begin to entertain, you realize it’s a glossy amalgamation of much better action-adventure fare.

That’s not to say The Adam Project isn’t good. If anything, it attempts to give the audience its money’s worth. And with Netflix’s price increase, you appreciate the hard work.

Here, Reynolds plays Adam Reed, a time-traveling pilot trying to save the world by going back in time to fix past mistakes. He does so by accessing a wormhole of his creation and crash lands in the present-day 28 years earlier. From there, he crashes into a forest near the home where he grew up. He meets his old yellow labrador (wouldn’t you have killed for him to be named Hugh Jackman?) and himself at the tender age of twelve years old (newcomer Walker Scobell).

One would think since he hit a type of hyperdrive button in space circa 2050, it would be a strange coincidence to land near his home. Or an amazing coincidence.

Then again, you wouldn’t get to set up a fairly standard plot when it comes to fixing mistakes when it comes to family in the time travel genre. Here, Adam’s father (Mark Ruffalo) died a year or two prior. He is now being raised by his single mother, Ellie (Jennifer Garner). The adult Adam has a thing or two to teach his younger self. Like how to give his mother a break. He has plenty of regrets since losing his wife (Zoe Saldaña) a couple of years back. Well, actually in the future, but big Adam’s past, not the tinier version. You know what I mean. 

Written by Jonathan Topper (Banshee), T.S. Nowlin (The Maze Runner series), Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Devlin, both of Journey to the Center of the Earth fame, you know the issue just by reading this sentence.

There are too many cooks in the kitchen, and the script lacks a natural flow. This is noteworthy since the film has your standard tropes. (The typical father and son squabbles, evil corporate villain, sad mother, and man mourning the loss of their spouse). All the ones that come with relationships and family dynamics. And not just time travel cliches in most genre films—also equipped with your standard character altruistically sacrificing themselves.

However, when you rewind the scene, it is unnecessary. My review isn’t necessarily bad as I try to pull myself out of the excessively negative critical gutter. It’s just something we have seen before. But now, it’s a repackaging for the viewer’s pleasure. Yes, there are cool special effects and a few nice fight scenes, but they are choreographed as dozens of bad guys fight Reynolds’ Adam rarely more than one at a time. Then there is the issue of Ruffalo’s Louis spending the majority of time comforting the 40-year-old Reynolds.

When he turns to the younger version, he simply says you will be okay. The greater need for socialization and growth would be the child’s. The script clearly loses focus because of Reynold’s star power.

The Adam Project is aimed at audiences who are genre diehards or too young to young to come to appreciate Back to the Future, Terminator, or Frequency. My fan theory is that Ruffalo and Garner are the same characters from 13 Going on 30, as the decades pass and they rewatch Levy and Reynolds’s film, they will come to realize they have seen it all before.

What did you think of the Netflix film The Adam Project? Comment below!

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