To be surprised by a movie these days is almost impossible. Most movies have massive media/ad campaigns long before you see them. Trailers give out plot details like grandmothers hand out sweets. Stars let spoilers slip during interviews. The machine keeps rolling and it’s hard to actually go into a movie blind. The Adam Project plays out like an Amblin film from the ’80s crossed with a modern-day sci-fi flick. It works unbelievably well. It’s heartfelt, emotional, action-packed, warm, joyous, and hopeful. All these things mixed with the excellent script, direction, and cast, make for one of the best films of 2022, already.

Part of what makes The Adam Project so great is that it knows exactly what it is. Nothing in the film pretends to be something it’s not. This is a silly idea about time travel, that works. It’s a lot like Back to the Future, but it does break some of the “fundamental” rules of time travel that other films have set. The story for The Adam Project goes like this:

A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future.

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That’s pretty simple, right? Well, it does get a bit more complicated as the story goes on. The fate of time and space is at stake, and the fate of actual time travel is at stake. A smaller story at stake is the family of Adam Reed and how his life fits into all this time travel.

Reynolds And Scobell Are A Mirror Image Alongside Other Great Cast Members

The Adam Project (L to R) Walker Scobell as Young Adam and Ryan Reynolds as Big Adam. Cr. Doane Gregory/Netflix © 2022

The heart of the film is the relationship between Young Adam (Walker Scobell) and Big Adam (Ryan Reynolds). It also surrounds Big Adam “meeting” his parents Ellie Reed (Jennifer Garner) and Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo). The scenes between Big Adam and his mom are particularly powerful from an emotional aspect. It also stars Zoe Saldana as Adam’s wife, Laura, who Big Adam is searching for after she went missing in a previous time. The villain of the whole film is Catherine Keener‘s Maya Sorian. She plays a diabolical villain that is incredibly reminiscent of the billionaires we have in our time.

She’s cold, calculating, and will do anything to keep her operation running. In addition, she has her bodyguard and head of security Christos (Alex Mallari Jr.). For a film with such a massive time-trotting scope, that’s the main cast that the audience deals with. In between scenes of tremendous action directed by Shawn Levy, there are incredibly touching moments, especially when Young Adam finds out who Laura is from Big Adam.

The film could have tanked based on the performance of first-time actor Walker Scobell, instead, his performance cements him among the very best first-time actors out there. He takes everything that Ryan Reynolds is known for, and co-opts it for this younger version of him. In some scenes, it’s like looking in a mirror almost. He does a fantastic job of providing the bewilderment and wonder that the film does so well. Imagine if you were a 12-year-old kid and you met your older self, but they had a cool time-jet, that’s what Scobell does in this film.

The Few Missteps With The Adam Project

The Adam Project (L to R) Ryan Reynolds as Big Adam, Mark Ruffalo as Louis Reed and Walker Scobell as Young Adam. Cr. Doana Gregory/Netflix © 2022

Without delving into nitpicks regarding time travel movie logic, there’s only really one thing that takes the audience out of the experience. One of the characters in the film is de-aged and it doesn’t look great. De-aging technology in films is hit or miss. Sometimes you get Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy (which made sense for the film) and others you get Sam Jackson in Captain Marvel. This is more Tron: Legacy than Captain Marvel. So the character kind of sticks out, especially in scenes with their older counterpart.

The Overwhelming Sense Of Joy, Warmth, And Wonder

The Adam Project (L to R) Zoe Saldana as Laura and Ryan Reynolds as Big Adam. Cr. Doane Gregory/Netflix © 2021

The pairing of Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds struck the entire cinematic world with 2021’s Free Guy. That film was a joyous trip through a video game world. The Adam Project reunites them, and luckily it also brings along the directing style and joy from Free Guy. Through the most emotional and sad moments in The Adam Project, it gets dark, but there’s always hope in the background, bubbling up. Whether that’s through Young Adam or Big Adam. When the film reaches the darkest points, they’re followed up by some of the best portions of the film.

The film is delightfully funny and uses music to great effect throughout. Shawn Levy’s directorial style relies on musical sections that amplify whatever they’re trying to show on the screen. In The Adam Project, that frenetic style is represented at key points through licensed songs.

If you could imagine what it would be like to go back and talk to your 12-year-old self, that’s the core idea of The Adam Project. Whatever that evokes for you, it comes up in The Adam Project. Ryan Reynolds, Shawn Levy, and the creative team here strike a chord that’s sure to resonate with audiences.

The Adam Project is simply thrilling. Between the excellent performances, action, and just the overall message and joy in the film, it’s some of the most fun you can have watching a movie in 2022.

The Adam Project releases on Netflix on March 11th, 2022.

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