The Adam Project Review: A Charming Yet Underwhelming Netflix Entry

Less than a year after the release of Free Guy, director Shawn Levy and actor Ryan Reynolds have teamed up for another adventure/sci-fi flick. The Adam Project is coming to Netflix this week, and while it's extremely likable, it's not quite the Steven Spielberg-esque, '80s throwback we were promised. The film's cool 1-hour and 46-minute run time makes it an easy and enjoyable experience, but it's ultimately underwhelming. The Adam Project is a charming movie with a good cast and a fun concept, but it's not likely to stick with you. 

Following a time traveler from 2050 named Adam Reed (Reynolds), The Adam Project wastes no time getting started, sending its hero back to 2022 within the first few minutes of the film. In a time when it's commonplace for movies to be three hours, it was refreshing to see The Adam Project jump right into the action. Unfortunately, that feeling quickly faded and left me wanting more.

Despite feeling undercooked, The Adam Project does have some strengths that are enough to keep the audience engaged and chuckling. After traveling back in time, Adam encounters his 12-year-old self and they have a truly entertaining rapport, thanks to newcomer Walker Scobell. Reynolds is often accused of playing the same types of characters, and maybe that's true, but there's no denying he's good at it. The man excels at snark and fun, and it was a genuine delight to see his banter with Scobell. The young actor is a star in the making as he played young Reynolds, and he ended up being the highlight in a film filled with big names. 

The movie's supporting cast includes Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner as Reynolds' parents from the past, Catherine Keener as the film's villain, and Zoe Saldaña as Reynolds' wife. It's disappointing that Ruffalo doesn't show up until the halfway point, because he brings a charismatically nerdy energy to the film that's similar to his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As for Saldaña, she has become the queen of playing badass women in sci-fi movies, so her time onscreen was undeniably exciting, but the movie could have used more of her. As a big fan of Keener, it's always thrilling to see her take on a villainous role, but everything about her storyline felt rushed. Watching her act alongside a younger version of herself (she plays both parts) should have been more enchanting than it was. Keener is cool as always, but her character felt the most underdeveloped, which is a shame considering Levy had so much room to play with the time-travel concept. 

However, nothing was more disappointing than the fact that Ruffalo and Garner only shared one short scene. A big draw of The Adam Project is the fact that the 13 Going on 30 alums are reuniting for the first time since 2004. While their lack of screentime makes sense within the story, they leaned hard on the reunion during the press tour, which boosted expectations about their on-screen relationship. The duo has undeniable chemistry and the movie would have benefited from giving them more time to shine together. 

Even though The Adam Project doesn't live up to its potential, it's still a pleasant experience that is catered to the whole family. There are some lively action scenes, a few laughs, and a handful of heartfelt moments that will make for a nice revisit on Father's Day. The Adam Project is an inoffensive, amiable, good time with a noteworthy, breakout performance. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Adam Project hits Netflix on March 11th.