The Inverse Review

The Adam Project review: Or, why I just can’t stand Ryan Reynolds

Netflix's latest sci-fi movie seems crafted to please pretty much everyone. So why did I hate it?

Ryan Reynolds is an extremely talented human being. Not only is he a skilled actor capable of pulling off comedy, action, and pathos, but he’s also a successful businessman several times over and seemingly a nice guy to boot. And yet, with the exception of Deadpool (the smart-alecky superhero he was born to play), I can barely force myself to sit through any of his movies.

I actually liked Detective Pikachu — I just thought Reynolds was the wrong choice for the title role. I thought Free Guy was a snoozefest made worse by its leading man. Now, Reynolds is back with his favorite director (Shawn Levy) for another action-adventure-sci-fi-comedy romp, and once again, I find myself gritting my teeth while everyone around me seems to be jumping for joy.

I saw The Adam Project (available on Netflix starting March 11) about a month ago at an early preview. Halfway through the movie — which tells the story of a man from the future who travels back in time and teams up with his younger self and their dad (Mark Ruffalo) to save the world — I could feel my eyes rolling to the back of my head as my spirit left my body. But as the credits rolled, I was shocked to hear everyone around me in the theater unanimously praise the film. Did we just watch the same movie?

After some very deep internal reflection, I think I know what’s wrong with Ryan Reynolds. Despite presenting himself as the last Hollywood star willing to break the franchise mold. Every movie he does feels the same, and every character he plays is interchangeable. You might as well just take The Adam Project and rename it Ryan Reynolds Movie #3.

Zoe Saldana and Ryan Reynolds in The Adam Project.Netflix

Maybe it’s the scripts he picks (cheap stories designed to seem ambitious and make money), or maybe it’s the fact that he only really knows how to play one character. Still, I’m not sold on Ryan Reynolds. And The Adam Project isn’t the movie to change my mind.

But if you’re still not convinced, here are a few of the other things wrong with The Adam Project:

The action is derivative — For an actor with the rare ability to star in non-franchise action movies, Ryan Reynolds sure seems to like ripping off Star Wars and Marvel. (There are multiple lightsaber jokes as he wields what is basically a less-cool lightsaber, along with a chase through the woods that might as well be on Speeder Bikes.)

The CGI is unwatchable — Some digital effects, like the time-skipping ship Reynolds pilots, actually looks kind of cool, but entire green-screen scenes later in the movie look like they were rendered for a PlayStation 2 cutscene.

Digitally de-aged Catherine Keener — No spoilers, but wow, does this look terrible. Remember when Catherine Keener only did good movies?

Reynolds with his younger self, played by Walker Scobell.Netflix

Nonsensical time travel rules — When it comes to time travel, the rules are pretty flexible, but The Adam Project finds a way to make them as complex and convoluted as possible. Multiple scenes devolve into impenetrable conversations about fixed origin points in time and “echoes” across competing timelines, while Mark Ruffalo’s character exists solely to spout sci-fi mumbo jumbo.

Bankrupt nostalgia — This movie is a bland streaming blockbuster seemingly cooked up by Netflix’s algorithms to resemble a cheap imitation of J.J. Abrams ripping off Steven Spielberg. You’re better off just rewatching Super 8.

The Adam Project premieres March 11 on Netflix.