Director(s): Shawn Levy
Writer(s): Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Walker Scobell
Time travel has been an idea that has flown around for some time now, especially in the world of film. Primarily spearheaded by Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 classic Back to the Future, the world of time travel has been explored and utilized in almost every way possible. Nowadays, the scientific phenomenon has pivoted away from time travel, and more towards multiple realities, or multiverses, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped exploring the “what ifs” of moving around in time.
In Shawn Levy’s latest film, The Adam Project, he decides to take his own jab at the idea of time travel and puts a family twist on it. In the year 2022, young Adam Reed (Walker Scobell) is a small 12-year-old nerd who has to deal with the same troubles as most small 12-year-old nerds: bullies. He isn’t the coolest kid in school, and his loud mouth gets him into a lot of trouble. One night when he is home alone he is met by himself from the future (Ryan Reynolds), and from then on both Adams must work together to stop time travel before it ever begins.
Levy’s previous film, Free Guy, was one of the biggest sleeper hits of last year. Aided by Ryan Reynolds in that film, Levy was able to bring a good balance of humor and emotion to mix in with the action placed throughout. This film is a continuation of that success and proves that Shawn Levy – who was recently handed the keys to Deadpool – has blockbuster potential in him.
In The Adam Project, the action is all there. Some genuinely well-shot fight scenes keep the focus in the fight while also creating an exciting avenue for displaying the action. The CGI’d elements weren’t completely there, however, as there were many times the film didn’t feel quite finished.
Where this film does flourish is in its examinations of grief and loss. Early in the film, it is revealed that Adam’s dad, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), has been dead for a little over a year because of a car accident. When this film highlights this loss, it becomes something much more than your prototypical action film.
Time moves on, but grief doesn’t. It will follow you until the end of time if you let it, and what this film does so well displays the effects of grief over time. Young Adam is bitter and angry. He is rude to the people around him, including his mom, and this is done out of pain from losing someone so close to him. Older Adam, filled with regrets, doesn’t have that same anger towards the people around him anymore but instead directs it on the person he lost. He forgets the good moments between him and his father and trades them for thoughts that let him place the blame and the pain on his dad. This look at grief throughout time and how a loss early in life can affect someone was actually really moving, and something that I wish was expanded on more throughout the film. I thought Reynolds really shined in these moments and brought an amount of heart to his character that hasn’t been seen in a while.
The Adam Project is a fun and exciting action film, and also a well-executed family drama. Ryan Reynold’s chemistry with director Shawn Levy is displayed once again extremely well, and it gives me hope for their future together as creative partners. Even though I do wish the film had explored more of how grief changes over time, it still was able to bring heart to this action film.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.