An excerpt from SK’s script review for Replicas which will be available 01/14/19:

What (Really) Doesn’t Work

-I want to talk about character building for a moment here. Basically all we learn about Keanu is that he’s really passionate about the transference of consciousness because he thinks it could lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s, and that he loves his family. However, before they’re killed in the car crash, we spend very little time with them. The kids are barely featured at all, and most of his screen time with his wife consists of her giving the usual “playing God is bad, mkay?” that you’ve heard a billion times before. This makes it really hard to buy into his obsession with cloning them. The reader just isn’t given much reason to care. Hell, I cared more about John Wick’s relationship with his dog, and it was on camera even less than these people are.

Everyone else is just sort of there. Ed is Keanu’s close friend and co-worker, who reluctantly helps him with his experiment. Jones is their asshole boss, who knows that Keanu is supposed to sick (his cover story), and insists he come back to work anyways. Those two take a turn later on, but hold that thought. There’s the annoying neighbor shows up every now and then and could be very easily cut. And really, that’s about it. 345 is the robot test subject that’s periodically being worked on, but it’s more of a plot device than anything. There’s really not much to anyone else other than Keanu, and even he’s inconsistent, seemingly set up to have gone a bit insane after his family died, but that gets brushed under the rug very easily.

-Now, as for how those science fiction concepts are utilized in the script? The whole idea of Keanu trying to transfer consciousness into a robot is set up at the very beginning, and then shunted aside for quite a while, instead focusing on him cloning his family. These two don’t really mesh, do they? It feels like there were two different ideas for a movie that were shoved together for no real reason. Either one could make for a good story on its own, but together they make for a big old mess. Now, they are connected via Keanu’s technology that was developed for the robot thing, but does it really make sense that a device used to imprint memories and stuff onto a synthetic brain could do the same thing for a cloned one? I really doubt it. I also highly doubt that anyone, no matter how smart, could build a sophisticated cloning lab in their basement.

The cloning story has its interesting elements. Keanu cloning his family in secret while stealing technology from the company could be suspenseful, especially since this has never been done before… only it works, and he almost perfectly clones them with Ed’s help. And then when the family starts noticing that something isn’t right, and Keanu realizes that the memory erasure wasn’t quite perfect and that there were still plenty of clues left over for his wife to figure out, is there any suspense? No, she finds out very quickly, and seems to get over it. And then when he’s forced to admit that he erased the memories of the daughter he couldn’t clone, he only has to face the consequences of this for about five minutes for reasons we’ll get to later. All in all, it’s a waste of decent ideas.

Now, as for the robot, that only comes back when Keanu is told that people will find out that he lifted technology from the company if it gets shut down, so he goes into work again and uses what he’s learned from his cloning experiments at home (just roll with it) to get the project back on track. He decides to scan his own mind, and basically makes robot version of himself. This then gets dropped again for very long time, until he needs a helpful robot sidekick to fight the bad guys that show up in the third act for him. That’s about it. Chappie arguably has a more interesting approach to consciousness transference, and in that movie all it required were a few PS4s linked together.

-So about that third act… Keanu begins to suspect that Ed is hiding things from him, and then Jones shows up at his house out of the blue, telling him that they’re really making weapons at the company, not medicine, and that he’s known about the clones all along because Ed was working for him the whole time. Oh, and he also has a few cars full of mercenaries parked up the block, who are going to kill Keanu’s clone family because they’re too dangerous to be in the wild or something like that. So the last twenty pages turns into a painfully generic chase movie. It’s kind of like how The Island starts as a science fiction movie and transitions into a Michael Bay action flick halfway through, only that circled back around to science fiction by the end. This ends with A. a sappy happy ending for Keanu and family (which makes no sense given where they were at before the dumb chase) and B. a really stupid sequel hook that should never be spoken of again.

-One last note: the tone of this thing is wildly uneven. This is especially true in the first third before the family is successfully cloned. Keanu is supposed to be insane with grief, yet whenever Ed is around, they share a lot of silly, jokey dialogue that just feels wrong. Ed even exclaims that he’s “the fuckin’ man!” when he finds out the cloning worked… right before he ogles the still unconscious clone wife’s naked boobs. There are a number of lines like that, e.g. “Nothing is open, it’s Thanksgiving.” They really feel out of place. The crowning jewel of unintentional hilarity has to be Keanu breaking down in tears while clutching a pink teddy bear. Sure, it belonged to the dead daughter he couldn’t clone, but still, the image of Keanu hugging a pink bear is too funny for words.

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