In this day and age, it is hard to believe that a movie like Replicas even exists. Well, that isn’t entirely fair — the film was shot in 2016 and is just now making its way to the big screen. Still, it is rare to see moderately-budgeted, star-driven genre films get a wide theatrical release. This movie is the remnant of a bygone era in which studios would greenlight films based on the bankability of their stars. Although this still happens with comedies, audiences have proven that star-driven sci-fi doesn’t work.
Replicas follows a scientist, played by Keanu Reeves, who becomes obsessed with bringing his family back to life after they die in a horrific accident. It doesn’t have enough action to be considered an action movie, nor does it have enough suspense to be considered a mystery or a thriller. Instead, it’s just a sci-fi drama that is oddly watchable. The film shouldn’t be enjoyable to watch because there really isn’t that much excitement, but it is mildly diverting nonetheless.
The movie tries to explain the science behind the cloning and transfers of consciousness, but it never really makes sense. They do a slightly better job explaining the cloning process, although this can be expected given that it is an existing technology (albeit not to this extent). On the other hand, the film’s attempts at explaining the consciousness transfers are ridiculous at best. It is almost obvious that the writers only have a rudimentary understanding of biotechnology and simply attempted to throw in as many big and technical words as they could find to make the movie seem smarter.
The plot is almost entirely based in characters making bad choices. Almost every twist and turn is extremely contrived. In fact, some of the dialogue even pokes fun at the fact that it is so convenient that the film almost would have been better off had it not taken itself so seriously. Even more frustrating is the fact that the trailer reveals a solid three-quarters of the plot. A big twist, teased by the trailer as the main conflict of the movie, actually doesn’t come in until the beginning of the third act. As a result, the whole story is completely predictable.
The character played by Reeves is written very problematically. The film requires you to suspend your disbelief when it comes to what the character can do. We are supposed to but into him being a brilliant, sensitive scientist, but towards the end of the movie, he becomes the badass action star with which we associate Reeves. Apart from the fact that the character has almost no common sense, Reeves was surprisingly able to sell the intelligence of the character. However, no scientist like that is going to be able to do the three action setpieces in the final act of the film, no matter how desperate they are.
The rest of the actors seem to be phoning in their performance. Alice Eve and the three child actors aren’t given much to do other than to be killed. John Ortiz is very hammy as the generic corporate bad guy. Thomas Middleditch gives what is probably the most compelling performance of the bunch as the sidekick, but he could have been used more effectively as comedic relief.
In technical terms, the movie was pretty rough. The CGI is some of the worst to come out of any widely-released film in quite a long time. There is a scene involving a robot that looks like it might as well have been pulled straight out of Jason and the Argonauts. That movie was revolutionary when it came out in 1963, but it looks cheesy now. Replicas somehow looks even cheesier. It is almost as if the first round of animation, without any polish or refinement, is what made its way onscreen.
Overall, Replicas was a pretty bad film. It barely makes sense, its plot is predictable, and its visuals are horrible. That being said, it’s a diverting enough hour and forty-five minutes if you have a free pass or nothing else to do on a discount Tuesday.
Replicas is now playing in theaters.