I now know why John Wick headshots everyone. It is to prevent the type of events that take place in Replicas from ever happening.
Replicas is the work of Jeffrey Nachmanoff, whose other directing credits include TV shows such as Homeland and The Brave. Writing credit goes to Chad St. John, who also has films such as Peppermint and London has Fallen under his belt, and whose script is adapted from a story by Stephen Hamel, who in turn serves as one of its producers. All three of these men come from an action thriller background, making up a combination that could have resulted in a perfectly fine, maybe fun time at the cinema.
But no, we are presented with an astonishingly bad experience.
Keanu Reeves plays William Foster, a neuroscientist who is looking for a way to transfer the minds of dead soldiers into a cybernetic human shell, codenamed 345. When he’s not at work, he’s at home with his loving wife Mona (Alice Eve) and three kids Sophie, Matt and Zoe. While on their way to a boat trip though, William loses his entire family to a tragic car accident… and then decides to bring them back using the technology he has been experimenting with. Roping in fellow scientist Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch) and his cloning experiments, Foster begins the process of resurrecting his family, all the while doing his best to cover the act up and prevent his work project from being shut down by his higherups. The experiment eventually starts to produce results, but not before Foster has to make some tough decisions for himself and his replicated loved ones, as well as deal with a certain evil scheme.
It is extremely difficult for me to fluidly piece together how much of a failure Replicas is. The only redemptive element that I can establish is that the film reaches for a firm grasp in the “so bad it’s good” category, as par the course for the events that take place in the third act. But even that falls short because leading up to the third act is sixty minutes of monotony and cinematic boredom, coupled with insane character decisions. There were distinct chuckles coming from my fellow theatregoers when it came around to the primary plot twist. The question “did you really think that it would be that easy?” that seems to account for one’s suspension of disbelief in regard to accepting what happens throughout this movie, rather than raising the stakes for our hero.
Speaking of whom, Keanu Reeves is here to do nothing but serve as the film’s lead. Nothing is asked of him in this role other than to look disheveled and sad-looking, and an appeal to the audience that what he is attempting to achieve is a good idea. This is ineffective as no chemistry or dynamic is established between him and his family, thus the motivations for both the character and the, frankly insane, decisions he makes are not open to one’s sympathy. Even Thomas Middleditch, with whom Reeves spends the greatest amount of screen time, is not given an incentive to go through with his colleague’s plan other than to not get caught doing it.
The directing in Replicas is appalling. Same goes for the writing. The script reads as a means to move the story along more than anything, and it does not supply any form of emotional gravitas to the characters. It does not elevate the situation either when it emphasizes how many natural laws that William Foster is breaking. Given that the cloning process proves to be highly successful, there is no attention given to how Foster may be dealing with the idea of copying his wife and children. The script also does not give any extended consideration or thought into how the process of transferring one’s consciousness between bodies might work. According to this movie, the wiping of certain ideas and memories from one’s head is as easy as Googling a word.
Visually, the film cannot be distinguished from any other action thriller of its kind. The CGI effects deployed are especially laughable. The movement and presence of Project 345 can almost be mistaken for stop-motion animation that was used in the likes of Robocop, or the original Star Wars trilogy. It looked good there and then, it does not here and now. The manner in which Keanu Reeves traverses the human mind during his experiments is unoriginal and unnecessary. It is the only time that the film at least tries to construct itself an identity, as initially seen in the trailers. Those scenes were the only time I sat up and gave my full attention, as they came with some nice music.
So in short, unless you somehow didn’t pick up on the tone of my comments above, Replicas is an extremely bad and boring movie. It only becomes interesting during its finale and even that is an accidental result of the preceding failures. It is cliched and poorly-executed on all fronts, amounting to a viewing that leaves no impact on you and that will be instantly forgotten, sans for when you bring it up to mock that finale.
Last Updated: January 23, 2019