New Netflix movie The Adam Project has been going down a storm, with the Ryan Reynolds-starring action-adventure topping Netflix’s most-watched list since it debuted.
Still, with multiple timelines, parallel characters and plenty of sci-fi exposition it’s possible that not everyone will have completely followed every twist and turn of the story.
If that’s you, never fear – we’ve broken down the main points of the story and The Adam Project’s ending below. Read on, but beware – we’re obviously dealing with some major spoilers from the film from here on out.
The Adam Project time travel explained
First up, some background. In this film time travel is real, and controlled by a nasty billionaire called Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) in the year 2050. One of her pilots, Adam Reed (Reynolds), suspects she killed his wife Laura (Zoe Saldana) and steals a “time jet” to go back to where she died on a mission in 2018.
Unfortunately after taking damage Adam instead arrives in 2022, where he has to enlist the help of his younger self (Walker Scobell) to find Laura (the jet is coded to his DNA, but won’t fly while he’s injured). As it turns out Laura is alive and she joins the Adams to fight off Sorian and her men (who have also travelled back to 2022), before telling Adam that he has to go back one more time to destroy time travel once and for all.
That’s why she was heading back to 2018 in the first place, the year that Adam’s dad Louis (Mark Ruffalo) invented time travel. Only the Adams can travel (the time jet DNA thing, remember?) so she sends them off while holding back the villains.
Now all they have to do is destroy a particle accelerator and remove this timeline forever – it’ll stop the dystopian future Adam and Laura came from, but also undo their memories of this adventure, including their marriage. So a pyrrhic victory, really.
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The Adam Project ending explained
In 2018, the Adams initially fail to get Louis’ help, as he objects on ethical and scientific grounds. Also, both Adams dwell on Louis’ imminent death, which takes place a year or so before the 2022 setting of the main timeline.
Without him and using Old Adam’s futuristic tech they head to Sorian technology (the 2018 version of baddie Maya’s company) to destroy a hard drive deep within the building’s particle accelerator. It’s revealed around this time that 2050 Maya Sorian is working with her 2018 self, and may have already altered time once before to amass her fortune and power (nobody remembers this, because the timeline changed).
Both Mayas, her goons, the Adams and a repentant Louis end up battling in the particle accelerator, sending it into an electromagnetic overload. During the battle, young Maya is killed (erasing her older self) along with her henchmen, and the two Adams and Louis escape from the explosion.
With time travel destroyed, both Adams then try to warn Louis about his fate but he stops them, implying that he suspects his death already but wouldn’t want to stop the flow of time. Instead, the three share a quick game of catch before both Big and Little Adam disappear, these versions erased from history.
Still, the adventures Adam had at these different points in his life have still had an impact. In 2022, Young Adam lets go of his resentment of his mother (Jennifer Garner), having somehow absorbed the life lessons he picked up from his older self. Meanwhile, Reynolds’ version of the character is shown at a futuristic university, meeting his once-wife Laura in a manner very similar to how they met in the original timeline.
The implication is that despite erasing that version of history, Adam and Laura still managed to find each other. Maybe the timeline corrected itself, maybe some things endure through different versions of time – either way, instead of a meet-cute at a military academy, they instead have one at a normal university, and it seems like their relationship survived the changes.
Altogether, the film wraps everything up with a pretty self-contained bow, so don’t expect any sequels. From the sounds of it, The Adam Project’s director and star might have some other plans together anyway…