The Adam Project Spoiler Review: Scramblin’ Towards Amblin

Yes, Ruffalo is in the film, and plays a significant role in “The Adam Project’s” third act. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the present, Adam (Walker Scobell) is a mouthy 12-year-old living with his mom (Hollywood’s mom, Jennifer Garner), the two of them mourning the death of his father a year earlier. Adam is picked on by generic movie bullies and seems nonplussed by the fact that his mom is dating again. Into his life crashes a new father figure in the form of … himself. A time-traveling jet crash lands in his backyard and Adam’s adult self (Reynolds) emerges to explain that time travel exists, that it wrecked the world, that he works for a time travel agency run by the evil Catherine Keener, and that he traveled back in time to stop the invention of time travel altogether. Also, like in “Avengers: Endgame,” there are several lines of dialogue pertaining to the overall unimportance of causality in this universe, handily erasing any concern for timeline inconsistencies that are a regular feature of time travel stories.

The adult Adam is also bitter, sarcastic, and cruel, and the two Adams have a few small conversational confrontations as to how the child could have become the man. It’s during these quiet conversations that “The Adam Project” is the most interesting, allowing both Adams to contemplate, respectively, their dark propensity towards nihilism and their lost innocence. Like in an Amblin film, much of their pain stems from an absent father whom young Adam is still coming to terms with, and adult Adam has already become embittered over. Additionally, Adult Adam also has the emotional scars left behind by a dead wife, which is a large concept for his 12-year-old self to even wrap his head around. Because they all have access to time travel, we will meet the father (Ruffalo) and we will meet the wife (Zoe SaldaƱa).

Sadly, the film also contains a lot of action mayhem, and there are numerous fights with robot time travel warriors (when they are dispatched, they disappear into clouds of glitter) and chases with CGI time travel jets (large, angular machines powered by glowing blue flames) which aren’t nearly as thrilling as that sounds. The action is efficient, clear, and unexciting, possessed of the slickest Hollywood special effects and very little in the way of exhilaration or visual wit. Levy’s one stylistic choice was to set the action scenes to semi-recognizable pop hits from the likes of Boston, Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend, and other bands listened to by people older than anyone in this movie.

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