Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Written by: Chad St. John
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Thomas Middleditch, Alice Eve, John Ortiz
Runtime: 107 minutes
I desperately want to love this movie and still there are things I admire about it: Keanu Reeves, science fiction, complicated ethical dilemmas, shadow organizations and, of course, I’m a sucker for a robot in a slick nine-piece suit. The unfortunate reality is such that Replicas, though ambitious, is a shoddily written film that cannot simultaneously juggle its many interesting ideas, any of which could be expanded out into its own feature film. Yet in the end, Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and company managed to craft a film that is entirely watchable and should you find yourself in the mood for some unintentional laughs, maybe even fun.
Keanu Reeves, who’s had somewhat of an on-again-off-again relationship with the sci-fi genre, plays Will Foster, an oxymoronic synthetic biologist whose life’s work has so far amounted to repeatedly failing to transferring human consciousness into robotic bodies postmortem. After a tragic car crash claims the lives of his family, Will decides he is going to defy every natural and man-made law to bring them back.
To do this, Will reluctantly recruits his close friend, colleague and convenient cloning expert, Ed Whittle (Silicon Valley‘s own Thomas Middleditch), to clone the bodies of his wife and kids, then transfer their consciousnesses into the clones. (Fortunately, Will has had past success transferring consciousness from one biological organism to another. It’s only when he attempts the transfer from a biological host to a synthetic one that he experiences issues.)
Things truly start to go off the rails when Will and Ed, two of the greatest minds on the planet, decide they are going to attempt this volatile experiment in Will’s garage (thank God he went for the two-car upgrade). Naturally, this involves the conveniently quick and unnoticed criminal relocation of highly-advanced and unimaginably expensive–not to mention bulky– equipment from their lab at a company called Bionyne to Will’s house.
John Ortiz always seems to be on the verge of cracking up while delivering the most pointedly bad guy lines of his career. In turn, I could not help but laugh whenever Ortiz’s character confronted Will about his absence at work or threatened to shut down his experiments.
Replicas never eases up on the unintentional absurdity, be it from a gaping plot hole, silly pseudo-science, eye-rolling dialogue or a cringe-worthy bad performance. Through it all, however, the film exhibits sparks of inspiration and reflection that genuinely and repeatedly had me asking “What would I do in Will’s situation?” Inevitably, though, everything would take a sharp turn towards sloppiness.
Have you seen Replicas? If so, what did you think? Or is this one you’re going to have to pass on? Let me know in the comments below!