Films from the sci-fi genre usually have to be a bit far-fetched. The concept of such films needs to be out-of-the-box and engaging to the extent that it allows the viewer to stretch the limits of their imagination. Keanu Reeves has made a career working in such movies – Johnny Mnemonic, The Matrix series and The Day The Earth Stood Still, so he’s right at home in the world of Replicas, where the human brain of a deceased person is replicated onto a cyber drive and then transferred onto a robot with a synthetic brain.
Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s film takes a few liberties with reality to present its high-concept premise. Reeves’ Foster manages to clone actual humans, even when his best friend and expert Ed (Thomas Middleditch) tells him that they’ve never tried the technology on humans before. Even as it stretches the limitations of actual science, the film makes abundant rookie mistakes. Foster actually runs a search string on a computer to instantly map all memories on a human brain related to one person. It just feels a little too convenient. What Replicas does really well, especially in its initial stages is that it plays out like a psychological thriller. It creates a genuinely interesting air around the people who get cloned and the fact that they feel like empty shells and not a complete person. But, this cerebral pursuit soon gives way to action-thriller clichés like car chases, double crosses and dodgy CGI sequences. The film goes from marginally smart sci-fi to frustrating b-movie thrills in a matter of seconds.
Reeves plays his conflicted and dazed character with the usual straight face. No other actor plays the detached hero with steely resolve better than him, but even with his poker face charisma, the sci-fi star can’t pull off the umpteen hair-brained ideas in the final act of the film. John Ortiz’s Jones, the proverbial bad guy is the worst part of the movie. His stereotypical evil boss act ruins the story completely.
Replicas is the sort of film that Hollywood usually redirects to direct-to-home video or online releases. It’s a hotchpotch of cool sci-fi ideas, executed with novice filmmaking skills and an underwhelming budget. This one’s best described as a cheap knockoff.
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