'Replicas' movie review: A flat, uninspiring and confused mess

Riddled with plotholes, bad writing and poor acting, this film squanders its potentially interesting plot

Published: 19th January 2019 06:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2019 06:03 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Thomas Middleditch, Alice Eve
Rating: 1 star

It has been over 200 years since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was first published, but the underlying idea of the revival of a dead person hasn’t gone out of fashion. Even though we have increased the average human lifespan significantly, death still awaits us all and immortality is something that we still crave. We have seen this on screen in different versions over the years (aside from the film adaptation of the novel) — Vanilla Sky and Robocop to name two. Keanu Reeves’ Replicas aspires to join this list, but the film is 
the clearest case of a DoA (Dead on Arrival).

Reeves’ William Foster is a neuroscientist in Puerto Rico working for a company called Biodyne on a project to transplant the brain of a dead person onto a robot. The first time we see him try to do this, he is unsuccessful as the human brain is unable to comprehend its robotic body. Will, who does not understand why this happens, soon leaves on a scheduled vacation with his lovely wife (Alice Eve) and three children. They fall victim to a road accident, and Will is the lone survivor. He then enlists the help of his co-worker, Ed (Silicon Valley-fame Thomas Middleditch) to help bring them back to life. What happens after that makes up the rest of the story.

With such a concept, this film could have chosen any number of ways to tell an incredibly moving story. It could have been a horror, thriller or drama, but it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. There are some fantastic small moments in Replicas like Reeves texting his dead children’s friends the way a disapproving dad would, who happens to find ‘objectionable’ texts on his kid’s phone. Or the important sequence where he runs into the unknown in a wonderful silhouette shot. But these are few and far between.

Riddled with plot holes, the writing is sub-par and takes a wild turn in the third act that makes you throw up your hands in resignation. The film is also tonally flat and my mind harked back to Prabhu’s Chinna Vaathiyaar (1995) that takes up a similar concept of transferring consciousness and handles it in a delightfully self-aware and comic way. This film at least needed actors who could have elevated the tantalising God-complex that Reeves has. All we get instead is a wooden cast that fails to capitalise on an interesting conceit.

I took the red pill and watched Replicas wishing it would take me to wonderland, but it only made me wish I had chosen the blue pill instead.

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