In 2050, a fighter pilot named Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) steals a time-travel jet to save his wife Laura Shane (Zoe Saldana), he fails and is injured and crashes in 2022. His 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell), an asthmatic, bullied, and insecure nerd, finds him and realizes that the injured pilot is his future self. His injury prevents him from flying his ship, so he brings along the kid to use his DNA to start the engine. They are soon attacked by Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) the leader of the dystopian future and her violent assistant Christos (Alex Mallori Jr.) but are saved by Laura, who had faked her death to go into hiding in the present time.

She had learned that Adam’s deceased father Louis (Mark Ruffalo) was the inventor of time travel and his creation, after his death, was seized by Sorian to use in gaining her power. She is in contact with her previous self to consolidate that power and had ordered Laura’s death. Laura risks her life to save the Adams pair so they can ask Louis for his help. He refuses to help them at first out of fear of altering the time-stream, but they go under cover and attempt to destroy the time-travel machine, held at Sorian Technologies. They are attacked by Sorian’s henchmen and Louis decides to help after all, but the future Sorian captures the young Adam.

Both Sorians threaten the child, but Louis and the future Adam have removed a memory unit containing the time-travel algorithm. There is a shoot-out and the electro-magnetic field is damaged. The entire device begins to malfunction, killing the younger Sorian, which makes the older Sorian disappear, and the whole Sorian facility is destroyed. Back home, the father and sons play catch, rediscovering each other. The young lad forgives his father for dying and forgives his mother for her grief. In the future, the older Adam meets his future wife Laura in a Utopian society.

The film was produced by Skydance Media, Maximum Effort, and 21 Laps Entertainment for Netflix, directed by Shaun Levy from a screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flakett, and Mark Levin. In the beginning, Tom Cruise was to star, but that fell through. It was released to theaters once and then released on Netflix. It received mixed reviews as a minor film, but praised for the actors’ performances, the abundant action sequences, visual effects, and the nostalgic inspiration from much-loved 1980’s movies.

The likable actors, like Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, and Zoe Saldana, were a hit with audiences. There were constant references to Back to the Future, Terminator, the Matrix films, Star Wars,  and The Last Starfighter, but the sly humor, in my opinion, kept it from appearing too derivative. Ryan Reynolds was his charming and buff self, Walker Scobell as the 12-year-old Adam was wonderful, and though the end was rather a tear-jerker, it was forgivable after the enjoyable ride of the story.

Catherine Keener, with the use of deepfake technology, played both the older and younger Sorian, often in the same scene. The golden retriever was Jennifer Garner’s own dog. The references to Hulk and Deadpool were amusing, and Laura, a Computational Linguistics expert, is played by Zoe Saldana, who played Uhura in the Star Trek reboots. The time-machine at Sorian has blue doors and opaque windows like the TARDIS. The bad-guys fly on hoverboards somewhat like Marty McFly. In fact, science-fiction references appeared tossed in by the handful to amuse the fans. I would roll my eyes and chuckle at the same time.

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