April 22, 2019  (Web Review)

Replicas

Lionsgate, 107 min., PG-13, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $24.99, Apr. 16

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

Neuroscientist Will Foster (Keanu Reeves) and his colleague/friend Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch) are conducting experiments on copying a recently-deceased person’s neural pathways (i.e., consciousness) to be transferred into a synthetic body (i.e., robot). Both are employed at Biodyne in Puerto Rico, where their impatient boss threatens to cut funding. So it’s not exactly the best time to go on vacation, but Will loads his vacuous wife (Alice Eve) and their three picture-perfect children into an SUV, heading for a boat trip. Caught in a rainstorm en route to the dock, they are involved in an accident so horrific that only Will survives. Grief-stricken, Will calls Ed to help him transport the dead bodies of his family back to his garage, where they set up a secret laboratory with Biodyne equipment. Using Ed’s cloning technology, Will plans to regenerate three out of four family members (there are not enough expensive incubation pods for the fourth). Does their bizarre experiment succeed? You bet! “Hey, we made clones today!” Ed rejoices. But complications arise with their resurrection. In addition, Will discovers that Biodyne isn’t involved in healing veterans, as he thought, but is allied with nefarious forces in the Middle East. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Replicas serves up fast-paced nonsense (including an absurd scene in which Will performs a rather sensitive medical maneuver—plunging a needle into his eye—while perched on a toilet in the Biodyne bathroom). A predictably preposterous tale that pushes the campy mad scientist conceit way over the edge, this is not recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and executive producer James Dodson, an “Imprint Complete” making-of featurette (26 min.), and deleted scenes (8 min.). Bottom line: a decent extras package for a ridiculous thriller.] (S. Granger)