Replicas flirts with what could have been an interesting movie, but is let down by Hollywood tropes, and awful special effects.
You ever watch a movie you know is bad but you have some enjoyment out of despite it? Maybe it’s the writer in me thinking about the possibility of this or maybe Keanu Reeves’s John Wick is holding a gun to my head. I’m not sure but Replicas is uuuuh it’s something.
For those who don’t know a thing about this movie, Replicas is a science fiction following the scientist Will Foster (Keanu Reeves) who is on the edge of a breakthrough to take a human mind from a dead body and transfer it to synthetic robot one. The idea being a dead soldier comes in, and now he or she is back as a robo-person! Problem is he can’t crack some final roadblock, and like most science gone wrong movies he only has one more chance before the companies funding is pulled. Gasp! His stress is compounded when his family consisting of his wife and three kids all die in a car accident. Will can’t accept this and decides he’s going to bring them back by cloning them and using his same technology, human to human.
Now, I’m sure you have an idea where you think it might go. It doesn’t go that way, or the other way you may think, or the even crazier one. This movie takes the huge Hollywood approach and every time you see a sparkle of a neat direction to take the story, it laughs in your face and gives you every story beat you have seen in the Hollywood machine. It’s probably the biggest point that both bugs me but then fascinates me of how much of a better story this could have been. Again, my writer side just latches onto these things thinking of the better film we could have had.
Stepping past the story, the acting is… interesting. At the beginning I felt like the Keanu family could barely remember their lines, and I was worried this would be a Taken situation where only Liam Neeson can act while everyone else are stiff boards. It improves a little, but not by a huge amount. Keanu’s character has the most to do, so you do get to see more range, but it works better when you have Thomas Middleditch (of Silicon Valley / Version commercial fame) around. He’s the only who points out how bonkers this whole situation is and adds some life to what could have been a painfully bland viewing experience.
Finally though we move onto my biggest sticking point. This movie’s special effects budget needed a massive amount of more money or a wizard like Neill Blomkamp. There are several scenes they entirely rely on these special effects, and my it was hard to not think it looks a little better than the strange offspring of The Terminator and video games from the late 90’s. Also the sequences involving the hololens tech to make the transferring of minds scenes interesting to watch were kind of funny. It’s Minority Report style moving things around and saying computer words.