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The Ending Of The Adam Project Explained

Though it may come as a surprise to many, Netflix's recently released film "The Adam Project" actually has a long history in Hollywood's so-called "development hell." According to Variety, the science fiction film was first designed as a speculative screenplay written by T.S. Nowlin and titled "Our Name is Adam." Originally set to star "Mission: Impossible" lead Tom Cruise, the film's development process was reported on by various Hollywood trade outlets going all the way back to 2012 (via Deadline). 

In the years since, the project has obviously undergone a plethora of changes. After years of industry silence on the promising project, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news in April 2020 that the film was being retooled with "Deadpool" actor Ryan Reynolds set to star and "Free Guy" director Shawn Levy set to helm the feature. Three months later, Deadline confirmed that the project was being shifted to Netflix. Additional casting news and a title change to "The Adam Project" came only a few months later.

Of course, for much of the film's development, the only details publicly revealed included the mention of a bit of time travel. After so much waiting, plenty of time travel aficionados are probably excited to finally get their first complete look at the film. Now, nearly a decade after the first reports on the script, "The Adam Project" is finally here! This is the ending of the "The Adam Project" explained.

Maya Sorian never understands the science

Much of the plot of "The Adam Project" focuses on the fight between Big Adam (Ryan Reynolds) and Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), Adam's arch-nemesis from the future whose younger doppelgänger also happens to be the business partner of Adam's father, Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo). As it turns out, the 2050 version of Maya eventually adopts a plan for world domination akin to Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) in "Back to the Future Part II." Having discreetly passed her 2018 self a bevy of useful stock tips (does that technically qualify as insider trading?) and amassed an enormous fortune, Maya turns murderous when she discovers that her illegal actions have been observed by Laura Reed (Zoe Saldaña).

However, after pursuing a vengeful Big Adam to 2022, Maya quickly proves that she is as ruthless as she is dimwitted. Following a series of failures to capture Adam(s), Maya teams up with her 2018 doppelgänger in order to lead a full-on assault of the electromagnetic accelerator in a desperate, last-ditch effort to preserve the timeline in which she rules supreme. Of course, both Mayas confront significant pushback from Big Adam, Young Adam (Walker Scobell), and Louis, each of whom promise to stop at nothing to erase the secret to what makes time travel possible (no, not the Flux Capacitor this time).

After Young Adam tricks Maya into firing an ill-placed bullet into the electronic doohickey, the electromagnetic seal on the device is compromised, causing all metal objects to swirl towards the center of the room. A massive fight ensues, but just when Maya appears on the verge of success, she makes the unwise decision to fire an armor-piercing round with a magnetic steel core in a magnetically unstable environment. Instead of killing Louis as she intends, Maya manages to inadvertently kill her younger self.

Big Adam and Young Adam enjoy a game of catch with their dad

Whereas Maya never gains any meaningful understanding of the science of time travel (or magnetism, apparently), Louis quickly becomes concerned that meeting future versions of his only son could spell a multitude of dangerous consequences. In fact, Louis becomes so scared about the potentially disastrous implications that he initially refuses to have anything to do with his son's mission. Of course, he comes to his senses relatively quickly and ultimately proves vital to changing the future for the better.

Unfortunately, the only part of the future the three choose not to change is that which is undeniably the most personal to them. Approximately a year and a half before the present-day events of the film, Louis is killed in an accident that leaves his wife, Ellie Reed (Jennifer Garner), and son struggling to put the pieces of their lives back together. Although both versions of Adam clearly would like to warn their father of his impending doom, Louis recognizes the grief on their faces and insists that they keep his exact manner of death to themselves. 

Instead, after successfully completing the mission, Louis takes the opportunity to tell both Adams how proud is of them and suggest that the father-son trio partake in a game of catch. As the three lob a baseball back and forth a few times, Louis shares knowing glances with both versions of his son. After Louis reaches down to retrieve a low pass from Young Adam, he looks up to realize that he is suddenly alone. With the timeline changes finally having caught up to them, Young Adam and Big Adam have simply vanished into thin air.

Adam and Laura find each other again

Audiences first see Big Adam genuinely surprised when his missing wife, Laura, arrives to help fight off Maya's soldiers at Young Adam's house. However, Big Adam is even more shocked when Laura insists that the only way to solve their current predicament is by erasing time travel technology before it is even invented. Of course, this is immediately problematic for Big Adam because he believes that such a dramatic change to the timeline will result in the two having never met. 

In response, Maya tells him, "Even if we correct the time stream, somewhere in us will be the echo of this one. And we will find each other." Although Laura later meets an untimely end via the unfriendly side of Maya's gunship, she dies in full faith that she and Adam will find each other again in whatever alternate universe results from changes to the timeline. Luckily for the married couple, Maya is eventually proven correct. In fact, the time stream correction results in only minimal impact on Adam and Laura's first meeting. 

Originally, Big Adam explains to Young Adam that he meets Laura as a result of a chance encounter in the wrong classroom in the wrong building at the academy, where they both are training to become pilots. However, in a flashforward placed at the end of the film, we see a slightly different version of the couple's first rendezvous. This time, Laura reports that she works in computational linguistics, prompting Adam to inform her that she is in the wrong classroom in the wrong building on the wrong campus. Though the situation is slightly different than originally described by Adam, the two quickly take a liking to one another, obviously suggesting that a romantic relationship between them will blossom once more.

"The Adam Project" is available for streaming on Netflix.