Replicas Has One Too Many Copies
Chris Kavan - wrote on 04/20/19
If only Keanu Reeves could re-enter The Matrix. Replicas throws out a lot of big ideas - including cloning humans and making a copy of the human mind and re-mapping it into an artificial life-form. And while all this should make for a compelling story, most of the technology is glossed over in favor of a story in which Will Foster (Reeves) our "hero" goes against every ethical and moral code in order to maybe bring back (most) of his family after a car accident.
Pushing boundaries is nothing new for films dealing with a technological leap, but one has to question our good doctor's motives. Yes, grief and helplessness are strong factors, but it seems like a tough call when the odds are against you. You see, as we learn early on, Foster has been working on bringing recently-dead soldiers back to life, but even though the latest experiment has yielded the best results yet - it still means the reanimated solider ripped his own robot face off. Assisting Foster is friend Ed Whittle (Silicon Valley standout Thomas Middleditch) who is roped into Foster's loony plan when his family trip results in the death of wife Mona (Alice Eve), oldest daughter Sophie (Emily Alyn Lind), son Matt (Emjay Anthony) and youngest daughter Zoe (Aria Lyric Leabu).
The technological exposition is deep here - Whittle has access to vats that can re-grow life, but, of course, has only been tested on things like rats and monkeys - not humans. Foster is more than willing to spend 14 agonizing days making sure the levels stay within range while also trying to perfect years of failure in order to remap all the minds into these home-grown bodies. Oh, but he also has to erase the memory of his youngest daughter from existence - as he only has three vats to work with, not four, and this requires manually overriding memories. Oh, and his boss Jones (a slimy John Ortiz) is about to cut off funding if he can't create a working human-to-robot mind transfer. Oh, and he just realized his family has a social life, so of course he must pretend to be his wife/daughter(s)/son across all their various accounts.
I mean, that's a lot to take in for one man, not to mention the moral ramifications of his actions - and if he gets just one thing wrong, he doesn't have a second chance, he will lose his family anyway. Replicas coasts by on these ideas, but I can't help but think they missed a major chance to really dig into the technology here - which seems far more interesting than the story we get. Plus, a major twist at the end opens up even bigger possibilities, one that would have also made for a better movie in my opinion. I mean, I can't exactly support the way the movie ends - this begs for a follow-up I doubt we'll ever get - as while some may see the ending as "happy" I also see it as "chilling" and maybe just a bit evil.
The casting is hit-or-miss. I found Reeves was fine in the lead, Middlemarch made a good peer/some humor while Ortiz is the standout as the boss from hell (a cross between the boss from Office Space and a stone cold hitman). The rest of the family is kind of wasted in my opinion, especially Eve, who seems more robotic than the robots. And let's not talk about how that robot looks and operates - I mean, I, Robot was over a decade ago and even those robots looked better. Luckily, it's not a huge factor, but it's a bit disturbing how it stood out (not in a good way).
Replicas is not an inherently bad film, but it's not that memorable, either. It is a collection of good ideas that is told in a haphazard way and takes the easy route rather than exploring the more interesting aspects of the story.