The Adam Project Time Travel, Ending Explained

The Adam Project is finally out in the world and it should come as no surprise that Ryan Reynolds' latest adventure is crushing the competition on Netflix. A family-friendly sci-fi film starring Reynolds from the director of Stranger Things and Free Guy? It's a recipe for Netflix success and movie fans have been tuning in to check it out all weekend. Given that the film is about time travel, however, plenty of folks watching may have some questions about what actually happens as the film comes to an end. Let's break it down.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Adam Project! Continue reading at your own risk...

Every movie involving time travel can be complicated and confusing if you break it down enough, even Back to the Future raises a couple of questions. The Adam Project is no different. In The Adam Project, everything that happens in the past affects the future, as was evidenced by Sorian (Catherine Keener) going back to 2018 and giving her younger self information about the future to alter the course of history. Adam explains this to his younger self at one point early in the film. Fortunately, the film also has a brief "failsafe" of sorts for explaining how it all works.

Adam tells his young counterpart that each person is directly tied to their place on the timeline at a quantum level, so that the universe essentially knows they're out of place. When they return to their rightful time, their memories are essentially altered to reflect where they are and the place that they have left. They will know what changed over the years should their time in the past alter history, but they won't have memories of the things they actually did. 

Things done in the past can alter the future, but the people of 2050 have seen firsthand how poorly that can go sometimes. So Adam isn't out to change anything, just to fix what Sorian had already done.

When Sorian accidentally kills her younger self in 2018, she's wiped from the future timeline. The Adams are eventually sent back to their timelines as a result of this move as well, because it essentially means that time travel was never fully created in the first place. This means that Adam's father still, sadly, dies in a car accident.

Adam does go on to meet his wife, Laura (Zoe Saldana), despite the pilot program not existing. They met when she wondered into the wrong classroom while they were in school to become pilots. That still happens in the final scene of the movie, but they are studying different subjects, hinting that fate pushed them together no matter what changed in the past.

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