Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 45 minutes, Director – Shawn Levy
12-year-old Adam (Walker Scobell) finds himself trying to save the world and change the future when an older version of himself (Ryan Reynolds), from 2050, crash-lands in the wrong year attempting to find his missing wife (Zoe Saldaña).
Even if you know nothing about The Adam Project going into it, it’s obvious from the early stages that Ryan Reynolds is going to be in this, and exactly who he’s playing. This isn’t just because he’s in the opening scene, but because the younger, 12-year-old, 2022-based version of his character, Adam (Walker Scobell) makes plenty of the same wisecracks he’s become known for in much the same way when being confronted by the usual group of bullies he faces almost every day. It’s clear he’s playing Ryan Reynolds and it sets in something of a worry that Reynolds will also be playing himself, providing the usual schtick which is perhaps beginning to wear thin after the past few years. However, luckily, while there are such moments, which don’t overly fit well with the rest of the film, for both figures – more prominently from the younger – there’s plenty else aside to cause it to not be the core focus and drawing point of the film.
The reason that the two are meeting is due to time-travelling 2050 Adam (Reynolds) crash-landing in the wrong year when trying to both save the future and find his missing wife (Zoe Saldaña). As the idea of time travel is explored we get a narrative that jumps back and forth, mostly back, to various times and locations where the birth of time travel itself within this world is explored. How can it be changed to save the future, and what does it have to do with Adam’s father (Mark Ruffalo) who passed away in a car accident a few months earlier. As the film tries to explore such points it travels along relatively standard lines, especially as it jumps around in time and shifts to a slightly new focus within each new setting. It causes certain points to not feel quite as developed as they perhaps could be and slightly brings the film down when it comes to its narrative focus and detail.
Yet, perhaps the most engaging points in the film are the action sequences. While not all quite grab you and bring you further in to the piece there’s a certain style and flair to them that catches your attention and helps to heighten a fairly well-established tone throughout. There’s something about the film which throws back to family sci-fi flicks of the 80s, perhaps helped by director Shawn Levy’s work on TV series Stranger Things, and while the feeling isn’t always strong; occasionally providing more of a dated feel than that of a throwback, it’s certainly present in the second half of the film and somewhat helps to lift things up, particularly some of the set-piece moments in the third act.
While it might be fairly forgettable after viewing, for the time that it’s on there’s a watchable nature to The Adam Project. It doesn’t completely act as a throwback to 80s-style sci-fi features, but it certainly manages to move along relatively well, particularly when focusing on action rather than narrative. Reynolds and Scobell work well together and manage to avoid entirely doing the usual Ryan Reynolds routine and in general that alone kind of helps the film along too as they primarily lead the piece with the supporting cast getting quite little to do, despite some big names amongst them. Yet, they manage to lead the film well, helping it along its course and making for decent enough (12-rated) family viewing for the time that it’s on.
A slight throwback that never fully manages to capture the tone and feel of what it seems to try to throw back to, The Adam Project might not quite hit all the right notes throughout its time-jumping narrative, but it hits enough to make for watchable amusement, with some good action sequences, for the time it’s on.