The Adam Project
17 May 2022
Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldaña
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.
It was February 2022 when my eye was caught by the thumbnail of a trailer featuring Ryan Reynolds wielding a lightsaber-like weapon. Intrigued, I clicked on the video to find a multifaceted genre interplay.
As an aficionado of film and all things sci-fi, The Adam Project has everything I’d want in a project: time travel, spaceship chases, underlying emotion, and… Ryan Reynolds. This anticipation was best summarised by one of the top comments under the teaser trailer: “A sci-fi/action time travel movie with Ryan Reynolds, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Garner? Sign me up.”
This feature boasts an A-lister-studded ensemble. The cast, for the most part, delivers wholesome, believable performances, regardless of the somewhat outlandish storyline most are not used to. Despite the number of award-winning actors on-screen, the standout character performance is through Young Adam (Walker Scobell). From their first scene together, Scobell forms immediate chemistry with Reynolds, constructing an endearing relationship that quickly becomes the heart of the movie.
What is perhaps more impressive, is that Scobell is not portraying his own depiction of Adam but puts to screen a younger version of Reynolds’ “Big Adam”, and does this to perfection, emulating the cheek, charisma, and mannerisms of Reynolds. It was no surprise to learn that this was an intentional effort, as Scobell had in fact burnished his Ryan Reynolds impression over years of practice, having even memorised the entirety of Deadpool 2’s dialogue by the age of 11.
“The biggest impact The Adam Project will have in Hollywood is the spotlighting of future star Walker Scobell.”
Despite the lasers, “not lightsabers”, and flashy visuals, at the film’s core is a heartfelt message, one which carefully approaches the topics of loss, grief, and cherishment. These topics form a character study, in which two of the film’s central roles have been developed from the loss of a loved one, yet both respond in inverse manners. This aspect is very much a real-world story, and one I wouldn’t have minded exploring for the entire duration.
To deliver the story’s fundamental message is a future variant of Adam, filled with a lifetime of regrets and missed opportunities. This machination is a recapitulation of a fantasy every human experiences – the ability to reverse time and forgo your regrets – using the bravado of a science-fiction concept as an excuse to explore this premise.
This relationship is not a one-way street, however. While young Adam does, of course, learn from his older self, there are still ethics Reynolds’ Adam must be reminded of from Scobell’s version. Reynold’s Adam has a few decades on his younger self, and with more time comes more trauma; these experiences ultimately cause him to overlook his childhood lessons and misremember his background, meaning he has just as much to learn from Scobell’s Adam as Scobell’s Adam has to learn from him. This interaction creates a loveable brother dynamic that demands investment from the viewer.
In spite of the film’s many successes, one of the few shortcomings of this release are the instances of questionable visual effects, particularly as it tries its hand at de-aging imagery, and although this effect has been executed expertly in the past, this attempt undoubtedly falls into the infamous “uncanny valley” and ultimately serves as a distraction; perhaps the feature became a little too ambitious in this instance.
When you think about it, The Adam Project is an unconventional and eccentric movie, yet the more genres it adopts, it always keeps its characters front and centre, alongside their heart-warming interactions and great performances, and just sprinkles some action on top, with the entire piece woven around a science-fiction concept.
The Adam Project is certainly not ground-breaking, but is an emotion-riddled passion project that serves to entertain, making it well-suited to its streaming release.