The Adam Project Ending Explained: Enjoy Yourselves, It's Later Than You Think

They say that time waits for no one. But if you have a time machine, that definitely helps you catch up. And in the case of Netflix's new time travel adventure movieĀ "The Adam Project," Ryan Reynolds' Adam Reed needs to catch up before the timeline falls to complete ruin. Like opening scene of "Terminator" levels of bad.

Although, as he works to save the world, Reed also looks to reconciles his own timeline when his mission accidentally takes him to 2022 and puts him face to face with his 12-year-old self. How does he manage to do both at the same time in Shawn Levy's latest film (and second collaboration with Reynolds)? That's exactly what we're here to talk about in this installment of Ending Explained!

*Warning: From this point forward, there are major spoilers for "The Adam Project." Proceed with caution.*

Allow yourself to be inadequate and then put in the work

At the beginning of the movie, the Adam Reed from 2050 is trying to get back to 2018 in the hopes that he can save his wife Laura (Zoe Saldana), who traveled back in time when she figured out that Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), time travel pioneer and business partner of Adam's deceased father Louis, altered time for her own personal gain. But when he finds himself injured and being pursued by Sorian's goons, he mixes up his coordinates and lands a few years later than he aimed for.

After the older Adam connects with his younger self (Walker Sobell), they're able to trick his ship's DNA-encoded programming into allowing him to fly despite being injured. However, with the ship operational, Sorian's team is able to track the Reeds. That's when Laura emerges, guns blazing. On the run again, the couple have a brief reunion before Laura convinces the Adams to make one more jump back to 2018, which is where Sorian initially changed the timeline. While there, they can reconnect with their father, who would know how to destroy the technology that makes time travel possible and stop his benefactor from carrying out her self-serving agenda. Unfortunately, Laura stays behind in 2022 to hold off their enemies, essentially meeting her demise at the hands of Sorian twice.

It's later than you think

Now in 2018, the final phases of the plan come together for the Adams. They catch up with their dad Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo) while he's teaching a class. He's hesitant to hear anything about the future at risk of altering the timeline, but comes around when he learns that Maya, his trusted partner in his research that makes him the grandfather of time travel, has done just that. Meanwhile, Sorian reconnects with her past self to try to prevent the trio of Reeds from getting involved with her plans.

Louis' cooperation didn't exactly come easily though. In an effort to preserve the timeline as much as possible, he resists getting involved with the future versions of his son. He even comes to blows with older Adam before going back home and leaving the time travelers at a motel. But after spending time with his wife Ellie (Jenifer Garner) and even younger Adam, he realizes that the Adams wouldn't have come to him in 2018 if he was still around in the future to help. Realizing that he needs to make the most of the time he has with his family while he has it, he finally springs into action.

That short deliberation period for Louis also sparks an epiphany with younger Adam. As he puts it to his older self, "Things happen to you, to us. And we suck at dealing with it. I'm starting to think that's something we do. I give mom a hard time now. I think it's easier to be angry than it is to be sad and I guess when I get older, I forget that there's a difference." While being sarcastic is Adam's default mode at any age, it goes to a more malicious level at 12 when it comes to his mom. Yes, it's funny when he calls her date's goatee a "mouth mullet," but it's mean when he dismisses him and shuts the door in his face. That passive aggression turns into older Adam's active aggression of hating their father, which eventually leads to actually punching Louis in the face because it was easier to hate him than miss him. Surprised by his younger self's insight, older Adam accepts this unique form of introspection and takes it to heart. Now that they're able to recognize their faults, they can redirect this anger towards Sorian and their mission to save the world.

Sometimes it pays to be a nerd

With each of their personal issues addressed, the Reeds reunite at the facility where Sorian keeps the world's largest electromagnetic accelerator. Since it's mostly unstable technology at this point in time, older Adam decides that destroying it is their key to victory. After fighting off various henchmen, young Adam stays outside the facility to guard the perimeter while, his future self and their father go in to remove the crystal hard drive from the diamond hard neuromorphic processor in the subbasement. That drive contains the ISPCA or the Infinitely Shifting Plasma Containing Algorithm, an equation that Louis designed to stabilize wormholes in order to make time travel possible. Without the algorithm running on a closed loop, the accelerator would cease to be operational and no one would be able to reprogram it.

The pair of Reeds obtain the hard drive and the accelerator becomes magnetized. As all the surrounding metal objects get pulled in, Sorian enters with a gun pointed at young Adam. Following some distracting banter, the younger Reed swats Sorian's hand away, which causes the gun to accidentally go off. The bullet hits the accelerator and the electromagnetic seal is compromised. With the core breached, the facility is on the verge of implosion and lockdown is imminent. Undeterred, 2018 Sorian still points the gun with armor piercing rounds at Louis.

When she balks, 2050 Sorian takes over and supervillain monologues before pulling the trigger because Louis never understood the bigger picture of their research. As the bullet escapes the chamber, instead of hurling towards the Reeds, it gets caught in the core's magnetic field and gets redirected towards the younger Sorian. With her past self killed, her future self fades away as well. And as that happens, Louis reminds his former partner that she never understood the science.

Bring your kid to work day was a big success

With the villain thwarted and the foundational elements of the discovery of time travel abolished, the timeline begins to correct itself. But before the Adams go back to their fixed points in time, the three Reeds have a catch-up in the backyard. As an epilogue to the tale, young Adam gives his mom a big hug instead of being a brat and old Adam still meets his future wife in a lecture hall, showing that some things are just meant to be.

At the end of the day, "The Adam Project" is a fun movie for the whole family to enjoy. It harkens back to Amblin Entertainment's heyday and offers an excellent transitional movie for kids that are starting to venture into more adult sci-fi and adventure stories like "Back to the Future" or "The Goonies." But at the heart of this Spielbergian film is the message that Louis shares with his students: "Enjoy yourselves. It's later than you think." Whether you attribute that quote to the ancient Romans and their sundials and Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, it still says that you should live in the present.

Don't waste your time holding pointless grudges like Ryan Reynolds' Adam. Address your issues, potentially with the help of a professional, and start your healing process now because there's no such thing as the "perfect time." Don't keep putting something off because you haven't reached an arbitrary landmark in your life that society has forced onto you. You can still do things even though you haven't reached your ideal weight, found your forever home, or landed your dream job yet. You can wear fashionable clothes, redecorate your space, and work hard toward your goals right now. To borrow another movie's quote, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it." So even if you do have access to time travel, don't forget about all the good things going on in the present. You wouldn't want to look back in anger or regret on the things you missed out on like spending extra time with a loved one. Just enjoy yourself because it's later than you think.