Review – Send in the Clones (“Replicas”)

John Wick takes a holiday from killing tons of people and turns to science for this weird little movie about cloning and the perils of playing God. Sure, there have been lotsa movies about cloning (The Island, The Boys From Brazil, Replicant, Creator and, of course, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones), but this one quite unique.

*

Bill Foster (Keanu Reeves) is having an extraordinarily bad day. He’s a scientist (who’s about to be fired) who specializes in synthetic biology at Biodyne, a secret Puerto Rico lab and, if that wasn’t bad enough, his entire family just got wiped out that night in a car crash! Damn! But Bill has a trick or two up his scientific sleeve and with the help of his partner, Ed (Thomas Middleditch), they decide to do the unthinkable: use the resources from the lab to “resurrect” the dead family members in the form of biological clones using Bill’s new method of taking the neural pathways (thoughts & memories) of one person and sticking them into a cloned body.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, Bill can only bring back his lovely wife, Mona (Alice Eve), his preteen son, Matthew (Emjay Anthony), and his teenage daughter, Sophie (Emily Alyn Lind), but NOT his precious little girl, Zoe (Aria Leabu). Bummer. So, secretly in his garage and without anyone’s knowledge, Bill successfully “grows” his family back using cloning stuff and, 17 days later (apparently that’s how long it takes to make a fully-grown person–who knew?) Mona, Matthew, and Sophie are waking up at home, none the wiser. BUT! All that running around has left Bill exhausted, especially with him having to tell a mountain of lies to cover up their absence and Zoe’s non-existence.

And just as everything is looking hunky-dory, Bill’s demanding boss, Mr. Jones (John Ortiz), comes breathing down his neck to get his robotic work done, but does this guy have a sinister agenda? Hmmm? Will Mona figure out that she’s not really who she thinks she is? And what’s up with Matthew and his sweet-tooth? That kid just loves pancake syrup! For all the science-fiction gobbledy-gook that’s thrown out in the movie, it does has an enjoyable oddness about it; it could have even been a full-blown comedy, if the script had been tweaked a bit. Screenwriter Chad St. John (London Has Fallen, Peppermint) usually writes shoot ’em-up revenge type movies, but for this one, he blends a quirky sci-fi story with some scattered dark humor that, while far from original, is totally implausible, ridiculous, and unbelievable.

Keanu, putting aside his ‘kill ’em all’ persona for the moment (wait for John Wick 3: Parabellum in May), is engaging here as the ultra devoted husband & father who doesn’t care about the consequences of playing God or even what he’s doing is extremely illegal. Middleditch has fun as his nervous bug-eyed assistant and nearly steals the movie from Keanu with his almost-comedic take; consider him a poor-man’s T.J. Miller. Yes, these guys are spouting non-sensical jargon that is loaded with plot holes and confusing techno-babble, but director Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor, Hollywood Palms) does have a nice handle on things, even tilting the camera when the bad guy shows up (LOL!)

All in all, it’s got a goofiness and sometimes laughable quality about it that makes it entertaining right down to it’s very silly ending which, I confess, I didn’t see coming. Keanu is fun to watch unravel as he (without a gun this time) tries to piece together, not only his life, but his families afterwards. Alice Eve is also very good as his duplicate wife who, surprisingly, is pretty much okay being born again from various chemicals.                              

 
The 6th Day (2000)
*
 
And on the 6th day the Lord made Arnold Schwarzenegger and saw that it was good. The Ahhnold has made many a silly actioner in his time, but this one ranks right up there with Eraser, End of Days, Red Heat, and Raw Deal. Although as dumb as this movie is, it still has a moral compass sneaking somewhere in the corner, wanting to get out.
 
It’s the future (2015–hahaha!) and cloning has become routine. Heck, you can go to a strip mall and get your cat or dog cloned while you shop! However, cloning humans? That’s strictly illegal because of the “The Sixth Day” law… but you CAN clone parts like livers, kidneys, etc! Making bank with all of this is billionaire Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), owner of Replacement Technologies, even though it’s Dr. Griffin Weir (Robert Duvall) who does the actual scientific grunt work.
 
One day Drucker hires charter pilot Adam Gibson (Arnold) and partner Hank Morgan (Michael Rapaport) for a ski trip, but Hank offers to fly Drucker instead, allowing Adam time to have his daughter’s dog cloned after the original died. But wary of cloning, he buys a SimPal named Cindy instead. BUT! When he gets home he’s in for a shocker!! He discovers that HE’S been cloned somehow and that clone of himself is with his family, along with another SimPal Cindy AND a replaced dog! What the %$#@!!??
 
Replacement Technologies goons soon arrive with the intention of killing Adam (uh, which one?), but he escapes. A running gag here is each time the bad guys are killed, they are quickly replaced with new cloned ones. Now the chase begins with Adam on the run, trying to put together what happened to him, why he was cloned, who he can trust, and who hasn’t been cloned! The movie sets it up for a crazy climax where the two Adams’ meet each other and plan to take down Replacement Technologies once and for all in your typical shoot ’em-up, explosion-filled finale.
 
This is one ridiculous movie written by the husband/wife team of Comac & Marianne Wibberley and follows a LOL story with broad characters and even sillier dialogue. Arnold was right in the middle of his “goofy years” (1990’s) where his movies were not all that great. He even got the Razzie Award for Worst Actor for this picture. Oh sure, the premise of cloning was interesting, but this movie told it in such a laughable way and recycled it like it was Total Recall 2.0. Even the villains were cookie-cutter and boring. The only thing going for it was the direction.
 
Roger Spottiswoode knows how to shoot action movies. From his 48hrs to his Tomorrow Never Dies, Roger can take a silly picture like this and make the whole thing look great and entertaining. Check out his helicopter stunt shots: a signature move he repeated in other movies.       

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