Updated: Feb 7, 2020
Will Foster is a brilliant scientist trying to transfer the minds of deceased humans into an artificial body. When his family is killed in a car accident, he and his assistant attempt to clone them and then upload each of their consciousness into different bodies. Of course, there are complications.
This is the outline of Replicas, a sci-fi drama that tells this story in the dumbest way possible. Will (played by Keanu Reeves, with little energy) is a very confusing protagonist. He is a Frankenstein-like mad scientist the audience is actually supposed to feel sympathy for. He goes back and forth between manic and way too relaxed. Replicas rushes through subplots, yet it somehow also takes forever to go anywhere. Though there are complications to Will’s plan, they are not clever ones. It is a bad screenplay mixed with bad filmmaking. This is a really stupid movie.
Nothing seems to be thought through. As the plot was progressing, I could not stop thinking about all of the potential issues that were not being addressed. To the credit of the screenplay (written by Chad St. John, who also wrote the revenge thriller Peppermint, which looks like a masterpiece in comparison), it does get around to some of those things as it builds toward its climax. But the revelations it lingers on make the whole thing feel even more pointless. The ethical and moral ramifications of what Will is doing are only referenced in throwaway lines. This is not an action movie, a thriller or a science based drama. To be honest, I have no idea what the intent was here. I just know it takes itself far too seriously to be the goofy exploitation picture it could have been.
The story is absurd, but things could have been salvaged if the characters were not such morons. The things Will does to keep his family’s fate a secret to the outside world are so poorly conceived I kept wondering how no one figured out something strange was going on with the Fosters. I guess that is because they are all idiots too. The work Will and his assistant, Ed (Thomas Middleditch, who is given several really awful lines as the comic relief) do to bring his family back to life is never fully explained. Replicas makes their work seem somewhat easy. They yell some stuff at each other, talk a lot about algorithms and then boom: Science!
Replicas (97 minutes without the end credits) is a half-baked idea filled out with terrible dialogue. Keanu Reeves returned to relevance a few years ago with John Wick, which had a simple plot that allowed him to look cool in a series of well-choreographed action sequences. This movie has a convoluted plot and tries to saddle him with a bunch of emotions it then does not actually let him play. There are a lot of complex emotions inherent in this story. They are mostly ignored in favor of whatever this was supposed to be. It is ill-conceived on nearly every level. Some movies are so bad they become fun to watch. This is just bad in a boring way. Nothing about this says it should have ever gotten the green light from the studio. It should not be viewed either.
½ out of 5
Keanu Reeves as Will Foster
Thomas Middleditch as Ed
Alice Eve as Mona
Emily Alyn Lind as Sophie
Emjay Anthony as Matt
John Ortiz as Jones
Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Screenplay by Chad St. John