Replicas isn’t as bad as I assumed it would be. Instead, Replicas is just bad in a more bland and general fashion. Where I have spent the last couple of days praising Keanu Reeves blank slate approach to being an action hero, here that blankness is more dead eyed and bored. Reeves isn’t holding back to give the audience an avatar, he’s checked out in the way that big time actors can tend to check out when they are just collecting a paycheck.
In Replicas, Keanu Reeves stars as Bill, a big shot scientist attempting to copy a human mind into a computer. We watch as a dead body arrives having only died hours before. This dead man volunteered to have his brain mapped and attempted to be copied and put into a robot. Unfortunately, the man’s mind rejects the robot body, even going so far as to try and punch it’s own mind out.
With this failure it appears that Bill might lose his job and the company itself may go out of business according to Bill’s boss, Jones (John Ortiz). Meanwhile, Bill is leaving on vacation that same day. Bill’s family are going to take out a boat owned by Bill’s co-worker Ed (Thomas Middleditch) but unfortunately, on the way to the boat, Bill and his family are in a car wreck that kills Bill’s wife (Alice Eve) and their three children.
Devastated in the immediate aftermath of the accident, Bill doesn’t contact the authorities. Instead, he calls Ed and has him bring his brain mapping equipment. Bill then sets about copying the minds of his wife and children as he did the dead man in his experiment. You might assume from this that he is going to make robot copies of his family, given that is what has been introduced already but you would be wrong.
Turns out, Ed is an expert in cloning and Bill wants Ed to clone his dead family. The two then set about stealing 4 million dollars worth of company property and taking three cloning pods and various genetic materials to Bill’s home. They do this despite the security protocols the script setup prior to this scene. Ed tells Bill that in 17 days, if all goes well, he will have three members of his family back but it will be up to him to choose which three and whether he can give them the memories and personalities they once had.
Have you got all of that nonsense because the film is so convoluted you might need to take notes. And yet, the film is equally as empty headed as it is overcomplicated. Keanu Reeves could not possibly care less about this movie. Take for instance the car wreck aftermath scenes. Keanu reacts to the death of his family with the same level of concern one might have for being cut off in traffic, he appears aggravated with a touch of confusion.
Middleditch meanwhile has exactly zero chemistry with Reeves despite the two apparently being close friends, according to the script. Middleditch is a mess of tics and awkward attempts at humor and while it is similar to his work on HBO’s Silicon Valley it doesn’t fit the serious tone cultivated by director Jeffrey Nachmanoff, a television veteran whose only other feature was the similarly sedate and confused Traitor in 2008.
Nachmanoff also wrote the screenplay for the similarly overstuffed The Day After Tomorrow. Much like that film, Replicas is a jumble of competing ideas. We start with a robot and then leap over to cloning. The cloning is relatively meaningless as it only leads to a series of action movie confrontations and a chase scene. The clones wind up being a plot driver but there is little consequence to the clones as characters.
Alice Eve is completed wasted in the role of wife and clone wife. The young star who made a strong impression in Star Trek a few years ago has almost zero presence in Replicas. You might expect from this premise that the clones would have a sinister air, perhaps a Twilight Zone like consequence, but no, they’re just perfect copies of Bill’s family, minus his young daughter because he only had three pods.
The film tries to mine some depth from Bill erasing his youngest daughter from the clones’ memories but Keanu Reeves can’t be bothered to express any genuine angst over this development and thus we don’t care much either. Much like how he reacted to the death of his family, Reeves’ Bill appears mildly befuddled by the decision to erase his daughter. Then, with no build up or drama, he eventually just tells his wife she’s a clone and that he erased their daughter. What should have been an important moment plays like Bill admitting he was the one who ate the last of pudding pops.
Replicas is really dopey but, to be fair, I was expecting a trainwreck. The film’s trailer and marketing campaign made the film appear to be something akin to a Tommy Wiseau movie, minus the charm. Keanu Reeves is bored, Thomas Middleditch is irksome and Alice Eve is absent. Replicas is forgettably bad, just competent enough for it to slip your memory just as quickly as you leave the theater.