I committed myself at the start of the year to watch every major theatrical release. Well, most of them. The ones that really matter at least. I’m glad to tell you that I’ve made good on my endeavor so far. However, doesn’t mean it’s been enjoyable thus far.
It’s been far too long but it’s back. Well not all the way back but after a few surprises this and last year January is back to be the trash bin of the movie release calendar. Routinely a dumping ground for misfires and studio write-offs this final post to the site for the month of January is dedicated to the newest Keanu classic; “Replicas.”
This movie is the kind of bad that makes you ask yourself what year is it? This movie feels like a time capsule dug up from the graveyard of failed sci-fi films past. Pulled directly from its nondescript production company’s website. Keanu Reeves stars as William Foster, a neuro-scientist who is on the verge of successfully transferring human consciousness into a computer when his family is tragically killed in a car crash.
Desperate to resurrect them, William recruits fellow scientist Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch; The Verizon Guy) to help him secretly clone their bodies and create replicas. But he soon faces a “Sophie’s choice” when it turns out that they can only bring three of the four family members back to life.
Sophie’s choice, from the novel and film of the same name, is an impossibly difficult choice, especially when forced onto someone. The choice is between two unbearable options, and its essentially no-win situation. We can’t even consider the crux of this film that, because a true Sophie’s choice is being presented with a no-win situation. William had the choice to not have a situation at all.
I’m going to leave alone the poor choice to drive at posted speeds in a torrential down pour on the highways of Puerto Rico at night. Spring Break 08’ back in college I rented a car with a learner’s permit and driving in Puerto Rico was a daily adventure of survival in balmy, sunny and dry days.
When were first introduced to William he’s a stressed-out genius who openly questions his wife telling him at the beginning of the film, “Maybe there is more to us than electrical signals; like a soul” as he nears a breaking point at not having a successful test subject achieve motorship consciousness. You like those big words, huh? I’m sure director, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and writer, Chad St. John were up working late nights combing through the thesaurus trying to find as many contrived ways to inject some semblance of logic to this story.
Were already presented with a family not sold on the idea of what their father does for a living. So, when faced with a decision to bring this family back after a deadly car crash, that he somehow walks away from without a scratch; the choice was made. Grieve your loved ones and take time and live on. Now that wouldn’t be a good set up for a bad movie though. We need things to happen fast.
With a crunch on time do you upload the mapping of your family’s brains into a horseshoe looking hard drive and grow 3 out of your 4 family members in pods and draw names to decide who to bring back and who to keep dead? Or, do you still grossly upload your family on to Super Nintendo cartridges, store them in a safe place, try to move on, realize you can’t, steal enough pods to bring back everyone at the same time, and construct an elaborate rouse as to how your family reappeared after the appropriate amount of time has passed?
If you’re still reading these reviews, then I’m sure you’re on my side and pick decision number 2. But that makes for too much sense on the part of a B Sci-Fi movie to get butts in seats. These films have bad reputations to uphold.
Thematically there are some awesome questions being asked in the beginning of the film. I thought I was being set up. Am I really going to get a thinking man’s sci fi movie? Not much longer after that, you have sprinkled quite heavily the odd tones of Alice Eve’s bionic acting and the Verizon guy’s off-color comedy. It’s a real shame for Alice Eve though who plays Williams wife. It’s like she was built in a Hollywood laboratory to be the franken-actress. Brains, Beauty, Body, Boobs, and yet there’s something so hollow about her performances, everything she does feels so unbelievable. She felt more like the paranoid Schizophrenic character she played in Marvels “the Iron Fist” on Netflix and less like a damaged mother who’s in for a rude awakening when she realizes her husband brought her back from the dead and erased the memory of her youngest daughter.
Oh yeah did I forget to mention that. After picking his family’s name out of a salad bowl drawing his youngest child’s name, he decides the only way to pull the whole charade off is to unexplainably erase the memory paths of his daughter Zoe from everyone in the family he’s resurrecting.
Whoa! Talk about putting the plot before the script. Not only was this a tasteless plot device but a poorly executed one that moves on so fast you simply don’t care. We see one of the worst acting jobs Keanu has turned in, in quite a while. He’s hunched over fake crying into his folded arms with Zoë’s name written on a piece of paper.
Folks if you don’t know, Keanu is incapable of crying. You don’t believe me? I challenge you to think of all the movies he has done, and this guy has experienced his fair share of deaths and tell me a time where he’s cried? You can’t, huh. Keanu; I love him but he’s a 65%’er. I mean that he’s only capable most times of giving you 65%; in anything. In his acting, delivery, emotion, action. He’s like a soda can shook up without a release. High floor with a low ceiling. You ever see this man run? It’s not a normal person running. He runs like if a mermaid came on land for the first time and sprouted legs. About 65% coordinated, right? It’s a real marvel. He’s had such a long run in show business; and man, good looks will get you far because, his suppressed skill set sure does stunt his production. Now we’ve calibrated our expectations and well take the John Wick’s and Matrix’s, but 65% of the time you’re going to get a Bad Keanu movie; and “Replicas” is no exception.
Its “Transcendence” level bad. High concept with no care for pacing or tone. “Replicas” maybe could’ve worked if it didn’t take itself so seriously and played more to the comedy that didn’t work. If it was all comedy like a higher concept “Flubber” then this would be not so bad. You know a movie’s bad when you can feel the title about to be inserted into a major reveal coming.
William: “There was a crash. I brought you back. You’re, Replicas!”
And that’s not even the worst of it. All of this behind the back easy bake oven science he was hiding from his employer was in on the whole thing. Not that they caused the crash; which I’m surprised wasn’t the twist, but that they were letting him do what he wanted because it was yielding better results than for the work he was getting paid to do. And now, they want to repossess their property as not to be liable for whatever defects may occur.
Nothing a like a good bad sci-fi movie to give you a shadowy government agency being the bad guy come to light.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Wait a minute I thought this was a robot movie, like the poster sold me on?” “Replicas” isn’t done yet folks. Keanu Reeves already is almost as much robot you’re going to get. But he gets his wish. In the final sequence before his boss can get rid of his newly cloned family, Robo-Keanu comes to save the day after he earlier uploads his own consciousness into a synthetic robot after figuring out how to trick the experiment into success.
Man, that was a mouthful.
Well, save the day seems like a stretch because the movie ends with the family moving on with their lives on a beach having fun, while William returns with little Zoe at his side who we’re assuming was just reborn and Robo-Keanu is now working for the shadow government, or is he?
If you’re looking for a good time with the family at the movies go check out “The Kid Who Would Be King” or save your money to catch John Wick: chapter 3- Parabellum” You’ll have at least a 65% chance of loving that movie.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 5/10
Director: Jerry Nachmanoff
Writer: Chad St. John Story by: Stephen Hamel
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz
Run Time: 107 mins