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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap85.71%

1 review, 1 rating

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by Jay Seaver

"Not even a bad copy of an interesting original."
1 stars

As much as we've all come to see Keanu Reeves not so much as a bad actor as a guy who can do quite well when he's playing something within a certain range, "ethically-conflicted scientist" is pretty damn far outside that comfort zone. It is, unfortunately, more or less the entirety of this movie, and makes "Replicas" a pretty tough slog. It's got about five times more in the way of interesting sci-fi ideas than it does actual story, and never finds a good way to close the gap.

Reeves plays Will Foster, an engineer working on transferring the contents of a human brain into a robot body at the Puerto Rico laboratory of Bionyne Industries. It's not going well; the latest soldier who had signed a release started ripping his new shell apart as soon as awakening, and the boss (John Ortiz) says funding will be cut if they don't see results soon. A weekend away with his family - wife Mona (Alice Eve), son Matt (Emjay Anthony), and daughters Sophie (Emily Alyn Lind) and Zoe (Aria Lyric Leabu) seems like it might be just thing, but a car accident leaves only Will alive. His co-worker and best friend Ed (Thomas Middleditch) has done advanced work on cloning, so if Will can figure out the transfer in the 17 days it takes to grow them to their previous ages, it might be like they'd never gone. The trouble is, Ed can only get hold of three cloning pods, and that's a lot to hide for two and a half weeks.

There are a lot of ideas that make for good science fiction here, and though the script by Chad St. John (from a story by producer Stephen Hamel) can sometimes handwave these challenges away, the decision to portray all of these issues as interconnected and happening at the same time, rather than isolated innovations and thus ethical conundrums, is a good one in theory. Practically, though, it often leaves little room for anything to be examined in much detail, and there are moments when the filmmakers don't seem to have figured the details of their near-future world out; some things are presented as very difficult while things such as editing memories is referenced very casually. Lots of things get brought up, but fewer lead to situations that put Will on the spot.

It also doesn't help that, for all the problems the characters have to solve, they never actually seem to do much of anything. There is an awful lot of scenes where Will stares at a screen (or a virtual reality display), working on some algorithm, while Ed issues a lot of warnings about Will being out of the office to monitor the pods, not much time is spent on the consequences of this or how he goes about handling it. The plot of how Will has to work around only resurrecting two of his children plays like a side-story when it should be central and wrenching, and the ways in which it is doomed to fail always seem pushed back until the whole thing is set aside for other issues.

Maybe Reeves wouldn't have been up for that; he's able to show discomfort, but in a rather general way. He isn't the sole problem with this movie, but he's pretty symptomatic of its weak performances, to the point where, in the second half the film, it's impossible to tell whether the clones are supposed to sound off because they're soulless or their memories don't quite fit, or if the filmmakers just aren't matching the tone to the story.

It ends in a messy way, but at least that mess is the result of things actually starting to happen. Most of the movie, unfortunately, is just boring, plenty of interesting concepts that are never backed up by action.

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originally posted: 01/14/19 09:17:12
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User Comments

1/18/19 Bob Dog Mark my words, Replicas is a smart and entertaining sci-fi movie! 5 stars
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  11-Jan-2019 (PG-13)



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