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By on March 21st, 2022
I will not say The Adam Project is a unique movie. Barring a few moments of extreme narrative creativity, it’s got all the tropes you’d expect and runs through them with a blistering pace.
No, The Adam Project won’t surprise you—but it will surely entertain you. Much like The Old Guard, this movie uses a combination of excellent acting, action, and sci-fi fun to stitch together a story of heart and consequences.
And, unlike a lot of my reviews, I want to focus on the acting first. Ryan Reynolds is incredible, charismatic, and carries scenes of emotional depth and snark equally with invigorating earnestness. If you wanted to see this movie because he’s in it, then you’ll get what you wanted, and more.
But it’s Walker Scobell that steals the show—if for semi-ironic reasons. Because The Adam Project is a time travel movie (hence me only using the actors’ names), and Walker had the job of being a young Ryan. A task that he nails with such skill it’s uncanny. This goes well past an impression into a nigh-perfect replication. 
But Walker’s not the only one on their A game. Jennifer Garner gets heart-breaking scenes packed with relatability. I won’t spoil it, but the bar scene was on another level of emotional honesty. She can convey so much with just quiet looks and how she holds herself, and it adds so much to a character that doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. 
And this underutilization is not unique to her. Mark Ruffalo is knocking it out of the park. The Avengers proved how good he is at playing a scientist, but here we see him transcending any box I’d had for his talent. This movie hits like a truck emotionally and his scenes are by far the most achingly beautiful and yet melancholy.
And what’s funny is this praise probably makes it sound like a drama—but it’s an action-comedy. A good one, too, with dynamic and fun scenes. The special effects look great, and the stunt work is solid. It’s hard to describe an action film that’s just competent without breaking any rules, so just know that the movie has plenty of solid brawls, shootouts, and chases. 
If instead you came for the comedy, The Adam Project has an underplayed sense of humor. Jokes happen with little focus. They happen—you might laugh—but the movie will not bend over backward to ensure a guffaw. If you wanted Deadpool, it’s not coming. “Amusing” is the right word. It seems to mostly be there to dilute the heavier stuff and keep the pace breezy. 
The part where the movie doesn’t hold together is almost not its fault. Time travel is such a hard concept to write even a little coherently. The Adam Project would collapse under the weight of overthinking. Not only are there logistical questions plenty, but random technobabble also comes in to justify conflict. Given explanations didn’t make me suspend disbelief, they made me go “oh, that’s because they didn’t want gore” or “they needed a reason the kid has to stick around.” If you wanted to, you could make a long listicle about how the plot could be “solved” or “fixed,” but that’s not engaging with the poignancy infusing the movie. I’m never suggesting turning off your brain when watching media, but know the sci-fi parts are an excuse, and may as well be magic. It succeeds on another axis. 
The Adam Project succeeds with its heart, and its excellent dialog and acting. It’s campy and tropey and silly, but when it wants to make the audience cheer, it can. And when it wants to make the audience bawl their eyes out, it will. Like many great time travel stories, The Adam Project’s true strength is showing how everyday human moments matter more than anyone can imagine.
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