The Adam Project: Plot And Ending Explained (Timeline Diagram)

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The Adam Project is a 2022 time-travel action film directed by Shawn Levy. The story is centred on a man who travels back in time and accidentally lands in the wrong year and runs into his younger self; the two team up to save the future. The time travel logic in the film is all over the place, but the witty humour keeps the film interesting. The film has a big cast with Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldaña, Mark Ruffalo and Catherine Keener. Walker Scobell has done a wonderful job as young Adam. Jennifer and Mark paired up after 13 Going On 30 after 18 years, much like in the film. Here’s the plot and ending of The Adam Project explained; spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

The Adam Project Time Travel Rules: What Is Fixed Time

Just as Deadpool calls it out in his movie, lazy writing appears to have followed Ryan into this movie for all the time travel concepts (but it is compensated with the witty dialogues). In The Adam Project, young Adam brings up a valid point – he asks if the old Adam remembers meeting himself decades ago. Old Adam doesn’t. Young Adam asks if old Adam is from the future of a Parallel Reality (like we saw in Avengers: Endgame). Old Adam sushes him, saying he watches too many movies.

Old Adam then explains that every person at each biological age belongs to one time; this is called their Fixed Time. What does this mean? If a person is born in 2000, then that person is latched with the flow of time starting in the year 2000. When the person is 2 years old, their Fixed Time is the year 2002.

When Adam travels outside his Fixed Time, 2050, he has left his place at a quantum level. Until he returns to his Fixed Time, his memories will not be affected by the events in 2022. And this is why old Adam does not yet have any memories of having met himself when he was a young boy. However, when old Adam returns to his Fixed Time, his previous memories will be gone and replaced by an alternate set of memories corresponding to the altered events.

While this fictional theory is fresh, the film goes ahead and shoots itself in the groin with the Grandfather Paradox… repeatedly.

The Adam Project: Timeline Diagram

The Adam Project Timeline Diagram small
(Click To Enlarge)

The Adam Project: How Did The Dad Die

The dad happens to die because of a car accident. A genuine accident that was not caused by Sorian or any other time traveller. And in all timelines in the film, the dad dies because of that same accident. The accident is not vital to the plot, but this seems to be a pressing question for everyone, so it was best to get it out of the way. 

The Adam Project: Plot Explained

Timeline-1: Who is Sorian? What does she want?

The Adam Project Maya Sorian

Sorian is the dad’s partner, and she is funding his research on wormholes. This research accidentally leads to the discovery of time travel. Timeline-1 is not shown in the movie. It appears that once the dad died, Sorian was sidelined, and political forces took control of the time device. Though she was the one who funded the project, she is left with nothing. So, at some time in the future in Timeline-1 (perhaps 2050), Sorian makes an illegal jump to 2018 to meet her younger self.

Like old Biff in Back To The Future II, old Sorian makes like a tree and gets out of there after giving her younger self enough stock tips to amass a fortune. She also explains how to keep complete control of the Time Program by eliminating any political obstacles. This information exchange makes way for an altered timeline, Timeline-2. Once old Sorian returns to her Fixed Time, her memories of a failed life are erased and replaced with ones where she is all-powerful. This timeline is the one we see at the movie’s beginning.

Timeline-2: What Happened To Laura?

In 2050, Laura, who works in the Time Program, notices a log entry of Sorian’s jet returning from 2018, but no jet ever left to 2018. To investigate, Laura goes back to 2018 to dig deeper. Sorian plants an altitude bomb on Laura’s jet. But the bomb goes off after Laura reaches 2018, and she manages to eject safely. Laura is trapped in the past without her jet and lives her life out, hoping and waiting that Adam will come looking for her one day. In 2050, Sorien announces that Laura died in an accident during her re-entry.

Timeline-3: Why does Adam steal that jet?

Old Adam smells something fishy about Laura’s death and steals a jump jet to go back to 2018 and look for her. Unfortunately, he’s shot in the process and enters the wrong time coordinates, and lands up in 2022. He goes over to the only place he remembers, his old home. He confides in young Adam and dresses his wounds. Old Adam’s meddling with the past causes a new timeline, Timeline-3.

Sorian travels to 2022 with a team and arrests old Adam. Laura, who’s been living in the past from 2018 to 2022, has constantly been scanning for old Adam’s arrival. She shows up and helps take down Sorian’s men; they make a run for it. Laura explains that the only way they can end the time chaos is if old Adam went back to 2018 and stopped time travel from being invented. Bang! – that’s the sound of the film shooting itself with the Grandfather Paradox. Old Adam doesn’t like this idea because if they change the stream of time, he and Laura will not meet.

What is the Echo that Laura talks about?

Laura’s theory is that even if the time stream is altered and everyone’s memories are replaced with new ones, an echo of the earlier memories will remain. So she theorizes that old Adam and Laura will meet and fall in love even in the new timeline because they will feel that inexplicable connection. Sending the Adams away, Laura takes on Sorien’s team and is killed.

The jet is meshed with old Adam’s DNA, and it will not start because it senses his injury. So, old Adam needs young Adam to be on the jet till they get to an appropriate altitude to fire up the wormhole. Because the plan is to find their dad, young Adam agrees to travel to 2018 with old Adam.

Timeline-4: The Adam Project Finale

Adams And Dad

The two Adams travel back to 2018 and meet their dad and explain that his accidental invention of the time machine results in his partner, Sorian, creating a horrendous future. Old Adam explains the importance of destroying the device that will eventually give birth to the time machine.

Old Sorien follows the Adams to 2018 and meets young Sorien to warn her that the Adams are trying to stop her from achieving her greatness. We need to understand that Timeline-3 is a branch of Timeline-2 and not Timeline-1 (see the diagram). Two months back, Young Sorien has already been met by an Old Sorien from Timeline-1 who has given her enough intel to alter her life. After that, Timeline-2 was born, and old Soren’s memories were replaced with an evil, successful life. In this scene, old Sorien is from Timeline-2, and that is why she can’t remember travelling to meet young Sorien.

The flaw in the writing in this scene is that old Sorien somehow clearly remembers events from Timeline-1, which is not possible. At best, she could have echoes, but not be able to recollect precisely about having a lonely life. Those memories should have been erased for her.

Destroying The Time Device

The two Adams, with the help of their dad, fight off Sorien’s men. Oddly, as old Adam and daddy enter the building, they leave young Adam out in the open and Sorien’s men grab him (duh!). Dad explains that they need to destroy the diamond-hard neuromorphic processor (a fancy hard drive). Before they can, old and young Sorien show up with young Adam held hostage. Young Adam shoves the gun away, and the stray bullet hits the electromagnet’s seal. 

Young Sorien is not yet evil and is unable to shoot dad and take the hard drive. Old Sorien asks her younger self to step aside, and she fires at dad. Unfortunately, the electromagnet alters the bullet’s path and kills young Sorien instead. This event erases Old-Sorien from existence in this timeline, and she disappears. Bang! – Grandfather Paradox.

The two Adams and their dad walk away, knowing time travel will never be invented. Bang! The ripple effect from the altered time stream, for some bizarre reason, gives the Adams a little extra wind-down time with their dad. Dad refuses to gain knowledge of his death, and the three play catch instead. In a short while, the Adams are gone.

Here’s a thought on Laura. Remember she mentions that she was in 2018 waiting for Adam. Not sure why she wasn’t written into the climax. Given Laura was present in 2018 and keeping an eye out for Adam, it would have made sense if she located and joined him for the finale.

The Adam Project: Ending Explained

The Adam Project ending explained

The ending of The Adam Project shows us that a new timeline created by the two Adams where the time machine is not invented. Adam’s dad however dies in the accident, and echoes stay with the people in this timeline. Eventually, in 2022, young Adam feels like giving his mom a tight hug as requested by his older self. And in the future, old Adam and Laura meet in a different class. Fate seems to have recreated the same scenario of Laura walking into the wrong class and running into Adam, who offers to walk with her. The two have an inexplicable feeling (echo) for one another and begin their happy lives together.

Did Sorian kill the dad?

No, Sorian didn’t kill the dad. Though the film trivializes the accident, a valid question here would be, how do the Adams know for sure that the car crash was not accomplished on purpose by Sorian? In the climax, they destroy the time machine and young Sorian is killed. Despite this, the dad is dead in the final timeline, Timeline -4. And that’s how we know for sure that no one plotted the dad’s death.

And that’s that. How did you like the plot and ending of The Adam Project? Liked it? Hated it? Leave your thoughts about the film in the comments below.

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