The Adam Project–A solid 1980s-inspired, sci-fi coming of age flick on Netflix

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s no wonder Netflix got its hooks into Ryan Reynolds (and he into them).  With great films like Free Guy and 6 Underground, not to mention his Deadpool series, he’s becoming reliable–still far to go to become the next Tom Cruise, but well on his way.  In his new movie The Adam Project, which started this weekend on Netflix, you get a lot: an almost family friendly, coming of age, sci-fi movie (with lightsabers).  It feels like director Shawn Levy, known for everything from Stranger Things to The Pink Panther to Night at the Museum to Free Guy and Lassie (and being Eugene’s brother) completely understands what it took to make a great 1980s Steven Spielberg sci-fi movieIt has spectacular special effects like you’d see in Guardians of the Galaxy, but they take a backseat to a story of relationships and second chances.  It belongs alongside E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Explorers, The Last Starfighter, Starman, Flight of the Navigator, D.A.R.Y.L., and J.J. Abrams’ own 1980s tribute, Super 8.

The scope isn’t as big as something like Back to the Future, but the coordination of different sci-fi elements is there, along with the stakes and twists of The Terminator.  It’s not so dark as that one, however.  In fact, if it weren’t for the unnecessary, inane, and repeated use of “Jesus Christ” as an expletive throughout the movie, it’d make a great Disney movie for kids of all ages.

Ryan Reynolds’ character (Adam) is a star pilot in the year 2050, who has gotten himself into trouble and uses a time travel device to go back in time to 2018 and attempt to prevent his father from inventing time travel–to reset the timeline to prevent the murder of his wife, played by Zoe Saldana (in a great, badass role).  It’s actually a giant Marvel reunion, with Deadpool Reynolds and Gamora Saldana joined by Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo as Adam’s father and Elektra actress Jennifer Garner as Adam’s mother.

When Adam inadvertently arrives in 2022, he must utilize his parents’ house and his younger self, played perfectly by young actor Walker Scobell, to recuperate and devise a Plan B (er, or Plan A, in his case).  Director Levy really moves things along, with all the set-up and older self meeting younger self fun out of the way in the first 15 minutes.

Ultimately this isn’t a retread of Bruce Willis’s similar framework film The Kid, nor is it like Willis’s other self-meet-self sci-fi movies (12 Monkeys, Looper).  No, The Adam Project stands by itself, having more to say about things like relationship navigation with your family, beating yourself up, and regrets, and it delivers great visual effects.  The effects include a Star Wars/Star Trek mash-up lightsaber/painstick that both strikes and repels forces, a cool starship jet hybrid that has a snazzy futuristic wormhole time portal, 1980s sci-fi robots, and choreographed battles that glue it all together.

Don’t miss it.  The Adam Project is streaming now on Netflix.


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