Sunday, March 13, 2022

The Adam Project

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Constantly bullied for his small physique and big mouth, 12-year-old Adam Reed (Walker Scobell) takes out all his frustrations on his mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner), despite both of them obviously not coping well with the death of his father Louis (Mark Ruffalo). Things get exciting when on a boring afternoon, he finds an injured stranger in their shed who knows a lot about him, their house, and the family history. It turns out that the guy is future Adam (Ryan Reynolds) who just time traveled from 2050 but missed his 2018 target and ended up in 2022 instead. The older and younger selves help each other with the former’s mission, which is to locate his wife Laura (Zoe Saldaña) who disappeared in a time jump a few years prior as well as to put an end to the future tyrannical rule of Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), their dad’s financier and business partner who will take advantage of his invention of time travel.

Netflix seems to be hitting a good balance between popcorn flicks for the small screen and cinematic offerings for the awards circuit. The Adam Project definitely belongs to the former, and Reynolds is fast becoming the streaming platform’s muse. Or escort? Let’s not get too gender specific here. Not that we are complaining, though. After all, did he not start his career on TV. Two Guys and a Girl, anyone? Perhaps this is also good news for him, being able to straddle and prove his bankability in both mediums.

Who else is happy with the 13 Going on 30 reunion? Even though Garner and Ruffalo do not share much screentime together, the chemistry is obviously still there. Reading an interview of theirs for a press junket, I bet a lot of us would dig the 50 Going on 80 sequel idea for nostalgia’s sake. For this movie, though, Garner’s Ellie serves as the narrative’s heart; Ruffalo, the brains; and Reynolds, the brawn. Scobell gets Reynolds' signature fast talking quirk down pat, and the two are believable as alternate versions of one another.

Garner does not get much action here, though, which is a shame given her action star background. Instead, it is Saldaña who gets to kick some ass, which isn’t a bad deal because she is no stranger to the genre either. Ruffalo gets an emotional scene or two, but much of the acting is rehashed from his Bruce Banner persona, what with the constant scientific mumbo-jumbo and inserting the word Quantum everywhere as a convenient explanation for whatever aspects of the storyline that the writers are too lazy to explain.

The plot unfolds true to your conventional sci-fi flick without a lot of twists. The film still manages to be entertaining in spite of the fact, perhaps thanks to its eye-catching visuals and action sequences that are not the best fight choreography you will see this year, but still explosive enough to keep you amused. Keener’s villain is too one-dimensional to court sympathy. What you get is your typical capitalist without a soul but long-running political ambitions, maybe deeply rooted in character insecurities that we will no longer find out because the storyline does not accommodate any compelling backstory.

Praise is due for the musical score for keeping the adrenaline rush high all throughout the film’s run as well as effectively upping the ante after several low points that could have easily been dragging otherwise. Overall, Netflix scores another hit with this project. Let’s cross our fingers that they do not run out of creative juices to keep us entertained. Seeing how they are still dominating the streaming arena despite the arrival of other heavyweight alternatives, there is enough reason to believe that they actually know what they are doing.

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