January is often considered the month movie studios dump their films they regret having made. One recent Keanu Reeves lead film dared to defy this stereotype, but instead fed right into it.
“Replicas,” is an American sci-fi film directed by Jeffery Nachmanoff and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura of “Transformers” fame. The film stars Keanu Reeves as William Foser, a neuroscientist, who along with his fried Ed Whittle, played by Thomas Middleditch, dare to defy the laws of nature to undo a terrible tragedy.
This movie is a mess and justifiably is being panned by both critics and fans alike. Currently it holds a measly 9 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an average score of 5.4/10 on IMDb and a 18 percent on Metacritic. Without the charismatic Keanu Reeves in the lead role, it is hard to imagine this film ending up anywhere else beside a Redbox or the Wal-Mart $5 bin, but instead it garnered a theatrical release (albeit a short one).
The first negative aspect of the film is the story. It is cliché, predictable and has enough plot holes that not even the most experienced script writer could repair. Characters often times make bone headed decisions and the ending of the film will make you groan harder than any of the films in the “Fifty Shades of Grey,” franchise.
“Replicas,” is reported to have had a $30 million budget, but even the high price tag for a January film is seldom seen in the end product. The titular replica scene in the final act of the film make the robots in the Will Smith movie “I, Robot,” from a decade-and-a-half-ago look like works of art. More than likely much of the budget went into the pockets of the high profile stars of the film, rather than the special effects of the film, much to the dismay of the end product.
And if the aspects above didn’t discourage you from seeing “Replicas,” you shouldn’t watch the trailer. A common problem with modern marketing materials for movies is they give too much of the plot away prior to the actual screening. The trailer for “Replicas,” is a prominent offender, giving away 95 percent of the mystery and plot points of the film in the trailer. So, if you like not knowing everything that happens in the movie before you pay $10 to see it, don’t watch the trailer for this film.
On the other hand, “Replicas,” is not without any merit. It is very well shot and the cinematography is quite breathtaking in certain sequences. One of the catalysts for the main plot involves a car crash in the woods ending in water and this scene is outstandingly executed. The moon reflecting on the water and horror on Reeves face satisfy both the emotional and sensory aspects of the viewer. It is moments like this that show the incredibly wasted potential the movie had.
Another positive aspect of the movie is the lead performance by Reeves. He may be one note, but the “John Wick,” and “The Matrix,” star is incredibly fun to watch on screen. Sure his delivery may be robotic (pun intended), stiff and somewhat comedic at times, but it is that levity he provides that transports this film into watchable territory. Some intended serious moments illicit laughs, the action is decent and the film is shot well enough to provide some enjoyment in the apocalyptic January movie landscape.
If you see movies regularly, have gone to see movies in January or are familiar with Reeves’ discography, this mess of a movie won’t be any surprise to you. “Replicas” is a January movie at its finest. With any luck, Reeves’ next performance in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” this May will put his career back on track.
My final rating for “Replicas,” is a lackluster 3/10.