The majority of us in a certain age group will always have fond memories of the sort of family blockbusters that Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment were known for while we were growing up. Movies like E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, The Goonies, and Back to the Future combined adventure and comedy and excelled at instilling a sense of wonder in viewers that modern CGI-laden popcorn fare often struggles to achieve. It is no surprise then that the current generation of filmmakers has been trying to recreate that magic, though with decidedly mixed results. In its promotional materials The Adam Project looked like it was another such attempt, though in actuality until the emotional payoffs of the ending there was rarely more than a perfunctory similarity.
The story begins with Adam (Ryan Reynolds) piloting a high-tech aircraft in the year 2050, while being chased for unknown reasons. He evades his pursuers and jumps via wormhole back in time to 2022 and crashes into the forest outside of his childhood home. He is discovered by his younger self (Walker Scobell) who rather quickly figures out who he is. Due to injuries sustained in the chase, Big Adam’s craft won’t let him fly, so he recruits Young Adam to trick it into believing he is fine and informs him that he was actually aiming for the year 2018 because his wife Laura (Zoe Saldaña) had gone there and never returned. Shortly after that, his pursuers catch up with him and Laura appears to save the day.
She informs the pair that she had originally gone to 2018 to investigate a ship that had returned from that year but for which there was no record of it having ever left for there to begin with. She had come to suspect that supposed family friend Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) had gone back to that year because it was when Adam’s father Louis (Mark Ruffalo) would have the breakthrough that created time travel and she wanted to lock up control of the technology for herself. So, with baddies on their tails, Adam and Adam hop back to 2018 to try and stop her.
As with many time-travel movies the plot is more than a little convoluted, though in this case it doesn’t really matter all that much beyond being a means to move from one moderately entertaining set piece to another. There is also the requisite borderline illogical explanation about how the characters can be jumping around the timeline without irrevocably damaging the future, but mercifully little time is given over to that. Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Free Guy) handles all of the action fine but doesn’t do much to make the movie stand out from similar fare. The movie largely coasts by on the charm of Ryan Reynolds doing his usual endearingly sharp-tongued schtick and Walker Scobell’s surprisingly effective imitation of it. In some movies it can become grating but it mostly works here. There are some sweetly affecting moments too, in particular around the Adams’ relationship with their wife, father and mother (Jennifer Garner). This isn’t the sort of movie that will likely stand the test of time, but it’s entertaining enough in the moment and has an ending that will likely hit all but the hardest of hearts right in the feels. ★★★
RATED PG-13 for Violence / Action, Language, and Suggestive References.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor