BY NORBERT RUG
What can I say about the movie “Replicas”? I saw this last week and it seems like I have seen this all before. I have. This movie seems to be put together from the cutting room floor debris of several better cloning movies to me. The plot is so predictable and slow, you can go make popcorn in the middle and not miss anything. The plot of this thriller has so much potential that it is sad it never hits the mark even once. It has more holes in it than a pound of thinly sliced deli Swiss cheese. It might, however, make a good drinking game. Every time you see a part stolen from another movie, everybody else has to chug their drink.
William Foster (Keanu Reeves), in a lifeless performance that should have been released to VOD is cast as the top neuroscientist at the Bionyne research facility in Puerto Rico where he’s trying to invent a way to download a human brain into a robot body (can you say Robocop). it’s a hard enough job that’s made even more difficult by William’s intolerant boss (John Ortiz), who gets extremely upset when he finds out that William may not achieve “the world’s greatest technological achievement” in time for the company’s next quarterly earnings report and threatens to shut the experiment down.
There’s reason for optimism though when William’s assistant (Thomas Middleditch) wheels in a fresh new body from the morgue. Everything goes well until the android body, a CGI robot that looks like a cross between the robots in “I, Robot” and C3PO rejects the dead man’s consciousness. All of this is merely a lead-in for the real plot though. William has an accident during a storm and his wife (Alice Eve) and their three kids die in the accident. In a hyped up B grade movie like this though, death isn’t the end. And it’s not surprising that William won’t leave the crash site before he decides to map everyone’s neural networks into a “hard drive” for later use. This hard drive looked to me like a love child between a Betamax cassette and an eight-track tape.
At this juncture is when the Swiss cheese fest begins. You might think you know where this is going and you probably think that our hero is going to turn his family into a bunch of robots as a way to atone for his poor driving and to save the company. WRONG. That would make way too much sense. In the outlandish world of “Replicas,” screenwriter Chad St. John throws us a curve. William decides to clone the dead members of his family and steals the equipment to do this.
This plan raises several questions in my mind that the movie seems to have no interest in answering. Questions like how you grow human beings in a cube full of Kool-aid in your basement. More than that, why is William working on robots if he has the ability to bring the dead back to life in their own skin? I don’t understand why it takes exactly 17 days for them all to be cloned, even though his wife and children are all different ages. And why nobody is looking for the missing equipment during this time.
For most of the movie, we are cooped up in William’s house as he toils to bring back his family without raising suspicion. Brace for a whopping 90 minutes of Reeves shuffling around wearing a ratty bathrobe. This is an ideal time to get some snacks, make some phone calls or maybe take a nap, you won’t miss much. The film is immobilized by all of the competing storylines that are trying to control its plot. It starts to feel as though the movie is simply changing gears from psychological horror to corporate espionage to a lame car chase in a desperate bid to distract from the faulty script.
There is a jaw-dropping reveal at the end that still has me wondering what I watched. “Derivatives” would be a better title for this movie as it derivative of many previous movies. Too bad it didn’t pick better parts to copy.