Trailers oversell the film.
Replicas brings Keanu Reeves back to the genre of sci fi and on most fronts he delivers. The trailers certainly oversell the film beyond what the final product offers. The film, while entertaining, does have its short comings in the face of CGI, pacing, and plot holes.
The film doesn’t offer anything too new to the genre, a genre that already has numerous films that tackle the subject of cloning. But the film is saved by Keanu’s performance and writing that tries to fix plot holes with late explanations. The film wants to be fun but at the same time very dramatic. Keanu’s character is struck by tragedy when his family dies in a car crash and through his grief he tries to bring them back through cloning.
The film asks the question of “what would you do or how far would you go to bring your loved ones back?” Now I know what you’re thinking; “I’ve seen plenty of films that ask that question.” Well of course you have, but Replicas presents a nice idea and spin on the question backed with a solid performance from Keanu who plays the obsessed and mourning husband/father. Unfortunately, though, Keanu’s performance isn’t enough to keep this sci fi thriller from being nothing more than a mediocre film with numerous misses with its story telling, character development, and overall plot.
Keanu saves the film
The cast is solid with some vets like Keanu Reeves and John Ortiz. What really shines though is the performances by Keanu Reeves and Thomas Middleditch. Thomas plays the role of the comedic relief in the film and tries to keep real life logic intact in a sci fi film that completely throws logic out the window. With that being said though every scene with Keanu and Thomas is gold and completely entertaining to see on screen. John Ortiz plays the jerk boss that we have all seen plenty times before.
It’s a complete pleasure though to see Keanu in a non-action adventure film to show off his acting chops in a more dramatic role. While Keanu’s more dramatic films don’t necessarily blow the box office away or get high praise from critics, it’s still a pleasure to see him show more depth and range. In Replicas reminds us of how different Keanu can be. You see Keanu play this husband/father who falls deep into his obsession with trying to bring his family back from facing death. Keanu plays the role well and it appears very believable. But unfortunately, his performance just isn’t enough.
The cinematography of the film has its hits and misses. Some areas are shot pretty nicely and convincingly but then there are shots where it’s a tad laughable. The CGI in key areas are so bad that you would think you were watching a TV film on the Syfy channel from 2003. During these key scenes I couldn’t help but chuckle at what I was seeing.
The Meat and Potatoes
Time to dig into the meat and potatoes. The film’s pacing is to fast for its own good, the film doesn’t give you enough time to care about any of the character but Keanu’s. For some watching the film this can be a bit disappointing. Now the argument could be made that the film’s focus isn’t on the family or other characters but on Keanu’s characters obsession with brining them back. That’s a solid argument, but the fact still remains that the lack of character development makes the film feel like an empty shell of cinema that’s only saved by two performances.
The film is riddled with plot holes and misplaced logic that the writers loosely try to explain or recover from. The truth is though the film doesn’t recover from it. Instead of consistent storytelling, character development, or plot progression, the film banks on the fact that the audience will have an emotional connection with the father and his desperate obsession to bring his family back.
At first, you’re easily invested to see if he can pull it off and see how far this rabbit hole of obsession will take him. But as the film goes on with its fast pacing you begin to ask more questions and the plot holes start to add up and you get taken out of the film. The saving grace though is Keanu and Thomas’s performance and how they bring their characters to life. Some of the plot holes and terrible CGI can be overlooked because of how entertaining it is to watch Keanu and Thomas’s chemistry together on screen. The climax of the film provided more of an eye roll than an entertaining explanation of one of the film’s biggest plot hole questions.
A Twist that misses
The film has a big twist and that’s when the flaws start to glare across the screen like a shooting star. The film suddenly wants to turn into something else at a drop of hat. Instead of being this great turn of events all it does for the audience is provide a great big eye roll into oblivion. Watching the film all I could think of was “really now”? Like come on. It was such a plot ball drop because it turned the film into another cliché sci-fi outing on a premise that could’ve been delivered a lot more cleverly. The ending though I must say was a little unexpected to see because at this point I was expecting nothing but cliche and mediocre. But, the ending was well delivered in a film that hovered just above mediocrity. Wasn’t necessarily an ending that was fulfilling but at the pace the film was going it was the best ending the film could provide.
Even with all its flaws and misses the film is still worth a watch because it is entertaining in its own right. Keanu Reeves makes the film watchable and seeing him play such a character that slips into grief and madness makes the film worth the watch. Unfortunately, the only high praise I can give the film is the performances given by Keanu Reeves and Thomas Middleditch. The film doesn’t deliver anything exceptionally well or new enough in a genre that has films that has already done cloning more effectively. The film major focus throughout is the question of what would you do or how far would go to bring back your family. Instead though the film drops the ball on their secondary question which is; what is it that really makes us human? The film’s plot would have been stronger if the focus was a bit heavier on that question.
Overall, it’s a good watch for Keanu fans and fans who like a little sci-fi without a complex or compelling plot. I did enjoy the film much more than I thought I would. The film is a lot more enjoyable if you go into it with the mindset of only getting invested into Keanu’s character and no one else.
Final thought: 6/10, worth the watch when it hits the streaming networks.
No after credit scene.