THE ADAM PROJECT (2022)
Release Date: 03/11/22
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self for a mission to save the future."
The 1980s produced some of the most iconic Science Fiction films. Star Wars. Star Trek. The Terminator. Alien. Back To the Future. These films had spaceships, time travel, cool guns, action, and would define the next generation of pop culture, for good reason. These films were labours of love, and they showed. From the script to the direction, to the visual effects, every element of those 80s flicks popped. The Adam Project is a revival; a send-up, to those 80s movies. It’s chock-full of references to those films, with a pop soundtrack comprised of music from the 80s, to remind us why those movies mattered. And that may be its weakest element.
Netflix’s latest project is the second team-up between director Shawn Levy and actor Ryan Reynolds, and while it never soars like the 80s films these men love, it certainly tries to. From the performances to the sound design, to the score by Rob Simonsen, The Adam Project certainly has its fair share of stellar components. However, the film’s writing and editing struggle to launch this film into hyperspace. In many ways, The Adam Project feels like 2022s Jungle Cruise. A derivative work that tried to send up an entire genre without fully understanding why that genre works.
Those issues start at the writing level. While The Adam Project is largely about grief, its sci-fi plot feels largely disjointed from that story. Writers Jonathon Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin have put together a script that feels like two separate films. The first is a resonating story of loss and how people handle losing what they love. And the second is a time-traveling game of cat and mouse between a corrupt company and the rebellious pilot. While these stories intersect on a plot level, they never manage to meld into one complete story. And that schism between the two stories becomes notably apparent when characters talk about pop culture and time travel. That self-referential tone has become a staple of Reynolds's work since Deadpool, and here, it comes as a detriment to the film because it reminds you of just how good The Terminator is. However, for as self-referential as the science fiction storyline is, the other story is so good that it more than makes up for it.
I have always been moved by stories of grief in film. The opening five minutes of Pixar’s Up bring me to tears every single time. So, when The Adam Project dives into the grief of losing those you love, it hits me hard. And a large part of that is due to the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell, who both play the main character, Adam, at different points in his life. Unlike so many of Reynolds's films post-Deadpool, The Adam Project forces him to be serious and contemplative. There is still that self-referential tone, but it is tapered with grief that is allowed to resonate with the audience. And both Reynolds and Scobell manage to play off each other perfectly, in both of this film’s tones. And while not every joke lands, they never bring down the rest of the film.
That is the magic of the Shawn Levy/Ryan Reynolds partnership to me. This pairing pushes Reynolds to do more and allows for some fun entertainment along the way. The production design may not be better than those 80s movies, but they do have a cool factor. The score by Rob Simonsen emphasizes the performances of Reynolds and Scobell perfectly. And the soundtrack may be a bit cheesy, but Boston’s “Foreplay/Longtime” needle-drop is truly fantastic.
The Adam Project isn’t one of the year's best films. But for a Netflix project, it was surprisingly good.