Review by Sean Boelman
If the mostly diverting caper Red Notice was criticized for feeling like it was made by an algorithm, the new Netflix Ryan Reynolds film The Adam Project must have been made by an abacus. A movie truly made for the lowest common denominator, this will get plenty of streams but will soon be forgotten in the sea of content on the service.
The film follows a young boy who is swept up in adventure when his older self travels back in time to partner with his father to save the past and the future. A mix of Back to the Future and family adventure with an (un)healthy dose of consumerism if the nostalgia baiting wasn’t enough, it’s one of the most derivative movies in recent memory.
As the credits roll, viewers will be left wondering how a film that is so energetic and action-packed can be this boring. Basically all of the one-hour-and-forty-five-minute runtime is either an action sequence or witty quippage (because Ryan Reynolds can apparently do nothing else anymore) and yet it’s so monotonous that it becomes dull.
The character motivations in the movie are about as basic as they come. The protagonist, depending on the age, is either a grieving kid looking to reconnect with his late father, or a grown man whose issues with his unprocessed grief manifest like crazy when he experiences loss again. It’s textbook stuff, much like everything else about the film.
And even though the movie is desperately trying to pull at the heartstrings, specifically in the act breaks, its emotional beats are so forced and overly sentimental that they barely resonate. And worse yet, the stakes aren’t really there, further contributing to the idea that the film is just going through the motions.
Ryan Reynolds is doing the same schtick here that he has done in pretty much every movie he has made since his post-DC redemption. Walker Scobell is probably a very talented kid, but it’s hard to tell because he is relegated to Reynolds’s shadow. The only person here who seems genuinely in-place is Mark Ruffalo, who gets to have some fun for a change in his role.
But perhaps most disappointingly, even for a Netflix movie with an undeniably inexplicably large budget, it doesn’t look all that good. The action is blandly choreographed, with the only interesting moments in the fight sequences being ripped off of other movies, and the CGI is seriously hit or miss.
Those hoping that Ryan Reynolds’s latest team-up with director Shawn Levy would replicate the fun success of Free Guy will surely be disappointed. The Adam Project is as uninspired as they come, a competently-made but unspectacular would-be spectacle that is the very definition of “content”.
The Adam Project streams on Netflix beginning March 11.