[Screen It]


(2019) (Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve) (PG-13)

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Sci-Fi: A neuroscientist replicates his family members who've been killed in a car accident.
Will Foster (KEANU REEVES) is a neuroscientist working for Bionyne Labs in Puerto Rico. He leads a team, which includes cloning expert Ed (THOMAS MIDDLEDITCH), that's attempting to transfer all things brain-related from recently deceased donors into the heads of androids, those allowing those people to live on after bodily death. But while they're getting closer to succeeding, all of their experiments have failed so far, something that doesn't please their boss, Jones (JOHN ORTIZ).

While heading off for vacation at night, a chain reaction series of events leads to a single car accident that claims the lives the Will's family -- wife Mona (ALICE EVE) and their three kids, Sophie (EMILY ALYN LIND), Matt (EMJAY ANTHONY) and Zoe (ARIA LYRIC LEABU). Realizing he has no time to waste and not wanting to lose them, Will summons Ed to the accident scene where they transfer the consciousnesses of Mona and the kids onto hard drives.

While Ed worries about the many things that could go wrong, Will wants him to clone his family back to their state right before the accident, thus allowing Will the chance to transfer their consciousnesses into the replica bodies. From that point on, they must contend with the consequences of doing so.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

In the 1982 sci-fi flick "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan," Admiral Kirk admits that he cheated on the impossible to win Kobayashi Maru test simulation, simply because he doesn't like to lose. Later in the film, Spock makes a tough "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few" choice in yet another no-win situation, giving one of the most enjoyable sci-fi films ever made a poignant ending.

Interestingly enough, in the drama "Sophie's Choice" from the same year, Meryl Streep's titular character has to make a tough choice regarding her children and their survival. That decision and the movie in general struck such a chord that the film's title entered the world lexicon to describe such a choice in such a no-win scenario.

I have a feeling that those behind the sci-fi offering "Replicas" were shooting for something similar, what with the film's protagonist, Will Foster (played by Keanu Reeves), facing a somewhat similar predicament in regard to his kids. And while it also involves death, his choice revolves around having too many deceased family members (due to a single-car accident) and not enough cloning pods to save all of them. And thus he clones his wife (Alice Eve) and two of his three kids (Emjay Anthony and Emily Aly Lind). But before reinstalling their consciousnesses into their blank slate replicas, he deletes all memories of the third child and then hopes for the best. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, lots of things, not only for him, but also the film in general that pushes suspension of disbelief -- even for a sci-fi pic -- to its absolute limits. The premise is interesting, if not original, and certainly features plenty of potential. But the way in which the story plays out -- courtesy of scribe Chad St. John -- and how everything is directed -- by Jeffrey Nachmanoff -- leaves a lot to be desired. It also doesn't help that this is some of Reeves' most wooden and unconvincing acting in some time. And I usually enjoy his work -- and acting style.

So, if you find yourself in a no-win scenario where one of the options is to see this film, I'd suggest taking whatever the other choice might be. "Replicas" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed January 10, 2019 / Posted January 11, 2019

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