A scientist becomes obsessed with returning his family to normalcy after a terrible accident.
ActorsStarring: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz, Nyasha Hatendi, Aria Lyric Leabu, Emily Alyn Lind, Emjay Anthony, Amber Rivera, Jeffrey Holsman, Jonathan Dwayne, Luis Gonzaga, Andres Ramos, Sunshine Logroño, Angela Alvarado
Keanu Reeves may not exactly be a great character actor, but he has made some Most Excellent movies (sorry…) and his recent success in the John Wick universe confirms he can play the right kind of roles really well. And we have two sequels to his greatest hits to look forward to: John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (to be released May 2019), and Bill & Ted 3: Bill & Ted Face The Music (scheduled for release August 2020). Unfortunately, Replicas will find a place at the other end of the spectrum on Reeves’ filmography, as this movie is much more Johnny Mnemonic than it is The Matrix.
Will Foster is a scientist working for Biodyne on the verge of a major breakthrough: he is able to successfully download people’s entire brains, but re-implanting it in an android brain is still proving difficult. He has to deliver soon or else Biodyne will pull the plug on his work. When a car accident kills his wife Mona (Alice Eve) and their three kids, he uses his lab work to bring them back to life. Of course, this will prove not to be an overnight success…
Sometimes movies are so silly or crazy that they can become sort of fun (the recent Mandy comes to mind), but Replicas takes itself completely seriously – but fails to deliver anything at that level.
The acting by Reeves is terrible and dull; he is serious and pained and desperate and anguished but these are emotions that he has never successfully managed to express before, and he fails here too. As his actions become more desperate and his science moves well into the fictional, maybe a more Crazy Professor angle might have added some watchability to what he is doing. Alice Eve has delivered enough decent performances for us to know she can do ‘normal’ and ‘natural’, yet here her acting is stilted and wooden – and that is before she becomes a replica. It feels like the director (Jeffrey Nachmanoff) either had no idea what he was going for, or how to get it from his actors, or maybe he was too starstruck by Reeves and Eve to dare to actually direct them – because the other two main characters are acted a lot better by Thomas Middlemitch and John Ortiz.
The acting isn’t helped by some terrible lines that Reeves delivers painstakingly seriously. The screenplay is rather shallow, but since the movie takes itself seriously it doesn’t really get away with various ‘shortcuts’ that the audience is required to just accept, yet you have to in order to make it to the end of this movie. Themes like ethics are touched upon but quickly forgotten or dismissed with (serious) one-liners, and for all of Reeves’ attempts at heartache and despair, not even his character shows any kind of development over the course of the movie.
Overall, unfortunately this is not ‘so bad it’s good’, nor even a guilty pleasure. With a $30m budget, it feels like an example of a lot of ‘decent’ contributors coming together to create something tragically worse than mediocre.