The Adam Project Review Part 1: Things That Make The Movie Great


Tristan Medd

Ryan Reynolds most recent film, The Adam Project, is a science fiction movie directed by Shawn Levy, the director of Free Guy and the proposed director of Deadpool 3. After the success Free Guy, the first partnership between neighbors Reynolds and Levy, the pair produced this movie for Netflix, starring Walker Scobell, Zoe Saldana, and Mark Ruffalo alongside Ryan Reynolds. The movie takes place on earth in the present, where a young Adam Reed teams up with his older self to find his lost wife, for whom the older Adam has traveled back in time. The initial response to this movie was relatively positive, with critics accepting it (69% Rotten Tomatoes) and fans overall enjoying it (76% Rotten Tomatoes, 6.7/10 IMDB). The movie is an interesting and creative Ryan Reynolds vehicle, which matches the sarcastic humor of older Ryan Reynolds to the charisma of younger Walker Scobell in an attempt to create a movie that is both serious and humorous at the same, while also carving its own place out in the storied history of science fiction. But does it achieve this?

This movie has a plethora of positives…but there are just as many negatives to match. To begin with the main positive: the chemistry between Reynolds and Scobell is the best part of this movie. The way the characters play off each other makes the audience want to watch, just to see what they’ll say to each other next. The actors create an entertaining on-screen rhythm–it truly feels like the viewer is watching an old and jaded man talking to his younger self, as the actors convey the same humor  and personality beats. This does come with a negative, however. Since Scobell tries to portray the self-awareness of Ryan Reynolds, when he does act like a child, i.e. lashing out at his grieving mother, it feels like an odd switch of character. His criticism of his mother doesn’t feel like the character that they developed, especially since the first interaction we see between them is a loving one. This makes the payoff at the end in which they get along feel less deserved, as the problem itself felt manufactured. The mother-son relationship is not all bad, however. The conversations between the two do feel natural, which is another positive about this movie. The dialogue itself is well written, and while each character has the potential to deliver the odd quip, each one is allowed to have a defined personality, without ever going completely over the top (except, perhaps, for Maya Sorien, but that will be covered later). While Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell are allowed to be more comical than the rest, they often feel genuinely human, which allows more serious character developing moments between the two to seem justified and not out-of-the-blue, a tight line to walk when blending drama and comedy. This being said, there are some rare cases (specifically coming from Mark Ruffalow) in which there will be an odd line that feels forced or somewhat cringe-worthy, as only a PG-13 rated movie can deliver. Despite this, the character interaction is satisfying. The other actors themselves do very well; Mark Ruffalo pulls off an endearingly nerdy character quite well, Katherine Reede delivers a charismatic villain, Jennifer Gardener perfectly represents a mother who struggles to maintain a stubborn child, be a good mother, and live a working life, and even Zoe Saldana, for the short time she is on screen, does a good job expressing the genuine emotions of love and loss all at the same time. These actors themselves certainly represent a positive that this movie brings to the table.

Another positive aspect of this movie is the action and the special effects. These are lumped into one because in this movie, they tend to be mutually exclusive. The special effects make the action interesting, which in some movies can be a bad thing, but in this movie it is not. The Adam Project manages to incorporate just enough real-world choreography and practical effects (such as the forest driving scene and some of the explosions) so that the reliance on special effects feels more natural and aids the world-building, instead of making the fight scenes feel artificial and unsatisfying as can happen in some movies. The choreography (while  not on par with more action-heavy movies) can be very entertaining and when it is used, it does exactly what it needs to do to capture the watchers’ attention during the fight scenes and express the skill of the characters who are fighting (most often Ryan Reynolds and Zoe Saldana). The special effects tend to be a little generic, but their combination with real world environments such as the spaceships in Adam’s backyard and drones in the forest are refreshing when compared to more recent movies that rely on special effects for every aspect of a shot that isn’t the actors. 

The positive elements of the film end there.  Tune in next week for part two of this review–a deeper dive into elements of the film that need improvement.