Film Review – The Adam Project (2022)

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It might not be the most popular opinion in the film world right now, but the tag team of Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy have quietly been helping to keep cinema ticking over in the last year, and you may not have noticed. Yes, the director of Night at the Museum and the star of Deadpool have helped saved multiplexes, and here’s why: last year, Free Guy – which for many was seen as a swing for the fences that wouldn’t work – actually soared over them, bounced into the neighbours’ gardens and kept on going, becoming one of the first big breakout hits of a Hollywood still reeling from the impact of the pandemic when the prognosis wasn’t favourable. 

A $331million box office cume and word this month of a sequel on the way (strange for a film that mocks IP and sequels, but we digress) was hugely positive for the industry, but we bet none of you thought the duo would immediately work together again nor indeed make a film just as good – if not better – than their first team-up. Well, we’ve got news for you.

Still reeling from the death of his father (Mark Ruffalo) a year ago, 13-year-old Adam (Walker Scobell) is finding it hard to cope with his absence, as is his mother (Jennifer Garner). A target for bullies because he’s relatively small for his age, Adam feels insignificant when, after one such run-in at school, he happens upon a pilot (Ryan Reynolds) in his garage, wounded and bleeding heavily and with Adam’s dog resting on his lap as if he is protecting him. Soon, the truth comes out: the pilot is Adam from the future and has crash-landed back in 2022 to try to reverse the devastating impact on the world of the invention of time travel – particularly when it falls into the wrong hands.

Free Guy was a riot: a smorgasbord of whimsy and joy that leaned heavily on Reynolds’ charisma and comic charm in the best way and brought us something approaching originality, even though its feet were firmly planted in many of the established franchises that help propel it. It was great fun and the synergy between actor and director was a match made in heaven, so why not go for a second go-round? In this writer’s opinion, we’re glad they did for The Adam Project is a wonderful trip (literally) back in time to when the magic of the unknown, of flights of fancy to strange, new places not just showed us what was possible for cinema but what was possible for ourselves and that the terrors of teenage angst and puberty would soon be a thing of history. 

Levy, a visual storyteller in every sense of the world, is having a ball here with the outlandish science fiction elements that allow for huge set-pieces and magical effects but also in his ability to humanise those inhabiting the world. This breaks no new ground in terms of originality, and it works best on the ground rather than in the skies but playing to its strengths – namely, Reynolds playing is his usual ballpark, the everyman qualities of Ruffalo, the sincerity of Garner and Saldana, and its 80s-influenced story that no doubt will draw some Stranger Things comparisons – it soars on the wings of imagination and frenetic energy whilst being measured and constrained in others as it uses all of the sci-fi extravagances to tell its story of loss, parenthood and family, all led by newcomer Walker Scobell’s superb central turn that’s the film’s trump card. You may have been here before, but the past has never felt so present. 


Action, Comedy, Sci-fi | USA, 2022 | 11th March 2022 | Netflix Original | Dir. Shawn Levy | Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldana