Director Shawn Levy
Screenplay Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldaña

The Adam Project is the rare film that presents a comprehensive and interesting story with four authors of the screenplay. The story has Adam Reed (Reynolds) stealing a ship designed for him and using it to go back in time. His mission is turned sideways and he ends up going from 2050 back to 2022 where he is only 12 years old (Scobell). When he encounters his younger self, he’s unable to move forward on his mission until a few things happen.

The sci-fi aspects of the story are pretty inexact, to be sure. Whenever someone brings up the effects of going back in time, other characters always express that there are more important things to worry about at the moment. Those things include parenthood, love and stopping the development of time travel in the first place. If one gets stuck on this, The Adam Project is not for you.

For this viewer, seeing Reynolds’ Adam interact with his younger, but equally whipsmart younger self is a treat. Both bring aspects of one character to a complete character, affected by different kinds of loss. Each are funny in a similar, but different where it counts kind of way. Pursuing both versions of Adam is possibly the least interesting version of a Catherine Keener character committed to film, but then, she’s really just a vessel of the storytelling process.

Garner and Ruffalo both provide somewhat touching parents to the hero. They too are machinations of the plot designed to emphasize growth in both versions of their son, though Ruffalo gets a chance to connect via his understanding of his role in Adam’s mission.

Levy provides enough effects to be entertaining but not redundant. It is curious to ponder how many times a ship can be shot up and still travel through time. The important part, for this story, is he gets the interplay between the Adams just right. His comfort level with Reynolds allows the actor to breathe in his role. Scobell is underplayed, which is rare for a kid actor. The fact that he’s allowed to be mellow gives Reynolds reaction a bit more weight. The resulting conversations with his younger self are less technical and more grounded in humanity. That is a plus for Reynolds and the viewer.

Utlimately, this is a good film, almost great, were the stakes driven a little higher and the antagonist drawn just a little bit closer to the ability of the actress inhabiting the role. The Adam Project is a good diversion if you are home looking for something to explode on screen just a little and warm your heart a little more.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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