Zoe Saldaña and Reynolds in the Adam Project hugging

10 Time Travel Movies to Watch if You Loved ‘The Adam Project’

Let's do the time warp again!

The Adam Project is one of Netflix’s most recent films and it offered audiences a delightful time travel adventure. The film hit the streaming platform on March 11th, 2022, and quickly climbed the Netflix charts. For several weeks straight, it remained Netflix’s #1 most-watched show on the service. The sci-fi action flick stars an impressive ensemble cast including Ryan Reynolds, Zoe Saldaña, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, and Walker Scobell, and was directed by Shawn Levy.

Recommended Videos

The Adam Project follows Adam Reed (Reynolds) a time traveler from 2050 who crash lands in 2022 and reluctantly enlists the help of his mouthy, pipsqueak younger self (Scobell) who is struggling with the grief of losing his father. Together, they set out to rescue Reed’s wife, Laura (Saldaña). However, the rescue mission soon turns into a mission to save the world from a villain who wishes to control time itself.

While The Adam Project received some mixed reviews, its reception leaned more towards the positive side. The film offered strong performances across the board, including an impressive breakout performance from Scobell. Meanwhile, The Adam Project managed to smartly balance humor, action, and emotion. While there certainly are a lot of time travel concepts, The Adam Project is more a story about loss and grief, making the film far more heartfelt than the average sci-fi, action flick. If you enjoyed The Adam Project, here are 10 more funny, heartfelt, and mind-bending time travel adventures to watch.

Back to The Future Trilogy

michael j. fox in back to the future
(Universal Pictures)

When it comes to time travel films, it is almost impossible to top Back to the Future. Ever since its release in 1985, it has only grown in prestige and has come to be considered one of the greatest films of all time. Back to the Future follows Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a budding musician with a submissive father, an alcoholic mother, and under-achieving siblings. One day, after meeting up with the eccentric scientist, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), McFly inadvertently time travels to the year 1955 and prevents his parents from meeting. Hence, he must race against time to unite his parents (ensuring his own birth occurs in the future).

Back to the Future is charming, comedic, and filled with surprising twists and turns. It also nabbed the heartfelt factor by presenting McFly with an opportunity that many don’t get—the chance to truly understand his parents and their stories. Back to the Future laid the foundation for countless time travel narratives. The film also boasted two sequels which, while they didn’t eclipse the original, were both enjoyable, humorous time travel adventures. Like The Adam Project, Back to the Future isn’t too complex, but it is equal parts fun and heartwarming.

12 Monkeys

Bruce Willis as James Cole and Brad Pitt as Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys
(Universal Pictures)

12 Monkeys premiered in 1996 and stars Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Amanda Schull, and Madeleine Stowe. The film follows James Cole (Willis), a prisoner in the year 2035. He is recruited on a mission that will send him to the year 1996. His mission is to track the source of a deadly virus that broke out in 1996 so that a cure might be developed in the future. However, time travel is anything but simple and he finds himself sent to the wrong time period multiple times. Along the way, he finds an unlikely companion in mental patient Jeffrey Goines (Pitt). Goines, along with an organization known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys, are suspected to have released the virus, but it may not be that simple.

12 Monkeys is a film that brilliantly brings together a post-apocalyptical world and time travel. It starts with a dark and somber tone in a dystopian world. Then, it quickly turns into an exciting thriller with plot twists that you will never see coming. Additionally, it tackled time travel in an entirely new way. Instead of going back in time to stop the virus from ever being unleashed, Cole is sent to search for a cure. It’s a film that shows interesting restraint in choosing to better the future rather than undoing decades of time for an easy solution. Pitt and Willis offer strong performances, the momentum never lets up, and the film tackles time travel in a unique and intelligent way. 12 Monkeys is definitely close to the top of the list of films that do time travel the right way.

Looper

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe in Looper
(Sony)

Looper is a sci-fi action film that premiered in 2012 and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, and Bruce Willis. The film takes place in the future, where time travel exists. However, it only exists for those who can afford to buy it on the black market. Most frequently, time travel is utilized by crime syndicates to dispose easily of victims. These crime syndicates send victims back in time to be finished off by an awaiting assassin, known as a looper. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is one such looper, but things get complicated when his older self (Willis) is sent back in time to be killed by him.

Looper is just about as smart as time travel films get. It is a completely different and unique take on the theory of time traveling. More importantly, it realistically explores the likely scenarios of how criminals could utilize time travel and examines the pitfalls of humanity. The performances are strong, the action intense, and it boasts a kind of time travel that is original, mind-bending, and not found often enough in sci-fi films.

Predestination

Ethan Hawke as The Barkeeper in Predestination
(Pinnacle Films)

If you’re a stickler for mind-boggling paradoxes that will keep you up at night, let me introduce you to Predestination. The film follows an unnamed temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) who is embarking on his final mission to stop the notorious Fizzle Bomber. While on the mission, he is badly burned and retreats to the 1970s to heal, where he meets a bitter man, John (Sarah Snook) who is seeking vengeance on the lover who left him. Together, the two travel to the past, John in search of vengeance, and the Agent to take down the Fizzle Bomber. However, in doing so they embark on a surprising journey of love and fate where their biggest enemies are not at all whom they expected.

A lot of plot details in Predestination can’t be revealed without spoiling the movie. Once you watch it, though, you will be shook by its truly dramatic end. It’s a trippy time travel film that holds nothing back when it comes to diving head-first into paradoxes and exploring the limitless possibilities of time travel.

Tenet

trailer screenshot of john david washington in tenet. Warner Brothers.
(Warner Bros.)

Tenet premiered in April of 2020 and stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, and Elizabeth Debicki. The story is a complex time travel plot brought to life by director Christopher Nolan. Tenet follows Protagonist (Washington), a CIA agent who is recruited into an organization called “Tenet.” Protagonist is sent traveling through time to prevent an attack that, if carried out, would start World War III.

As expected coming from Nolan, Tenet is visually dazzling, action-packed, ambitious, and boasts strong performances across the board. As a time travel film, though, this might be more well-received by fairly hardcore sci-fi fans. Tenet introduces a very complex idea of time travel, conceptualized as time inversion. Very simply explained, if you want to go back in time, you can’t just jump to a moment in time. You instead have to live the past in reverse until you get to the point in time you want. The movie goes way more in-depth with inverted time, turnstiles, and inverted entropy. At times, it is very confusing and difficult to follow. However, if you’re big on detailed and physics-based sci-fi, Tenet introduces a new and logical form of time travel that definitely intrigues.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble and Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire in The Time Traveler's Wife
(Warner Bros.)

If you were touched by Adam and Laura’s relationship in The Adam Project, then The Time Traveler’s Wife is the film for you. Released in 2009, the film follows Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana), a man with a disorder that causes him to involuntarily travel forward or backward in time. While he can’t control the timing or destination of his travels, he frequently revisits places of significance to him, such as the day his mother passed in a car crash. As an adult, he meets Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) who reveals that his older self has visited her and has been her best friend since childhood. The two marry but struggle to maintain a relationship in the face of DeTamble’s disorder.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is not without its flaws and it suffers from being a bit melodramatic. Additionally, the time travel that it features isn’t exactly framed well and it isn’t free from plot holes and unanswered questions. At the same time, it is meant to be a romance film more so than a sci-fi film. If you’re not concerned with the exact specifics of time travel and want a romance story that transcends time, this movie works well. Also, HBO and Steven Moffat are remaking The Time Traveler’s Wife as a TV series, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to revisit the original film.

The Tomorrow War

chris pratt
(Amazon)

The Tomorrow War premiered on Amazon Prime on July 2, 2021, and is a military sci-fi film. The film follows Dan Forester Jr (Chris Pratt) a former Green Beret First Sergeant now living a quiet family life as a teacher. Then his life (and everyone else’s) is interrupted when time travelers from 2051 arrive with troubling news. In the future, the Earth is fighting a battle against extraterrestrials and it is losing the fight. As a result, people from the present are being recruited to travel to the future and help fight the war.

If you ignore the fact that the plot doesn’t really make sense, this is a pretty decent time travel film. Seriously, though, if a war is ever wiping out humanity, I sincerely hope our world leaders wouldn’t get the bright idea to put resources into inventing time travel, going to the past, and bringing people from the past to the future to die, too. Aside from this issue, it’s a unique premise and Sam Richardson’s hilarious performance alone holds up the film. It’s a time travel plot with a twist and offers a nice mixture of military action and humor.

Men in Black 3

Will Smith as Agent J and Josh Brolin As Agent K in Men in Black 3
(Sony)

While this marks the final film in the original Men in Black film series, you don’t really need to watch the first two films to enjoy this one. Men in Black 3 follows Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) who work together in an unofficial government agency that polices extraterrestrial affairs on earth. While they have worked together for years, J has never really known much about his elusive and stoic partner. That changes when an old enemy of Agent K travels back in time to kill him. Agent J travels back in time as well and teams up with a younger Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his life (and earth).

This is another time travel story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The film is filled with time travel problems that are explained away unconvincingly and with chocolate milk. Still, the visual effects are stunning, Smith’s humor is on point, and Brolin steals the show with his portrayal of Young Agent K. You can also expect a surprisingly emotional finale to the franchise. Ultimately, Men in Black 3 isn’t the greatest if you want a scientific explanation of time travel. However, it’s a very fun film with a nice mixture of humor, action, emotion, and time travel.

Avengers: Endgame

Tony Stark of the Avengers with the Infinity Stones
(Marvel)

After Avengers: Infinity War ended on a cliff-hanger, we knew our heroes would need to take some desperate measures in the sequel, Avengers: Endgame. It turns out, time travel was the option that Marvel needed. In the film, the Avengers devise a plan to travel through time utilizing the quantum realm. They will split up and retrieve each of the Infinity Stones from the past and bring them back to the future. Hence, they will use the Infinity Gauntlet like Thanos did, but in the opposite manner—when they snap, everyone who disappeared will come back. This allows them to bring back those lost in the blip, without having to erase or undo the past five years where those who remained continued building their lives.

Marvel handles time travel in a very smart manner. For one, the actions of the time travelers in the past do not impact the present or future. Instead of impacting the future, actions in the past will actually create an entirely different parallel timeline. With parallel timelines, this abolishes the butterfly effect and grandfather paradox, even allowing characters to kill their past selves and still be alive in another timeline. Yes, it’s confusing, but it is also a take on time travel that you’re not quite going to find with another film. Of course, keep in mind you may need to be up to date on your Marvel films to be able to fully enjoy this time travel, superhero adventure.

Deadpool 2

Deadpool gasping with his hands pressed to his face.
(20th Century Fox)

Deadpool 2 is the closest to The Adam Project that you can possibly get. Seriously, lets just go down the list. Time Travel? Check. Ryan Reynolds? Check. Mouthy smart-ass kid? Check. Love story? Check. Deadpool 2 is the sequel to Deadpool and sees the masked vigilante, Deadpool (Reynolds), who is reeling from the death of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), create his own task force to save the life of Russell (Julian Dennison). Russell is a teenage mutant who has become the target of Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling genetically enhanced soldier bent on avenging his family.

Now, keep in mind, this is Deadpool we’re talking about. So, the time travel doesn’t actually make any sense and isn’t explained. All we know is that Cable has a little click-y device that he uses to go back in time. Fittingly, he also only has one remaining charge to get back home with. Of course, that’s because Deadpool 2 doesn’t follow the rules of typical films and is a completely bonkers, but delightful, black comedy superhero film. Deadpool 2 is the one film that can get away with having time travel make no sense in it, while still making the list of time travel films to watch.

(Featured image: Netflix)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
related content
Read Article Where Does ‘Godzilla Minus One’ Fit on the Franchise’s Timeline?
Godzilla roaring in Godzilla Minus One
Godzilla roaring in Godzilla Minus One
Godzilla roaring in Godzilla Minus One
Read Article Anxiety’s Voice Actor Understands the Importance of Talking About, Well, Anxiety
Joy and Anxiety standing next to each other
Joy and Anxiety standing next to each other
Joy and Anxiety standing next to each other
Read Article Sony’s Alamo Drafthouse Purchase Is Another Nail in the Coffin of a Dying Movie Industry
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema logo. The words are in white on a red logo outlined in yellow, and the whole thing is on a black background.
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema logo. The words are in white on a red logo outlined in yellow, and the whole thing is on a black background.
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema logo. The words are in white on a red logo outlined in yellow, and the whole thing is on a black background.
Read Article Looking Back at the Reason Behind Doc Hudson’s Absence From the ‘Cars’ Sequels
Paul Newman as Doc Hudson and Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen in 'Cars'
Paul Newman as Doc Hudson and Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen in 'Cars'
Paul Newman as Doc Hudson and Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen in 'Cars'
Read Article So You Want To Find the ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ Claw Machines …
Deadpool sitting behind a snow-covered tree trunk in the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer
Deadpool sitting behind a snow-covered tree trunk in the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer
Deadpool sitting behind a snow-covered tree trunk in the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer
Related Content
Read Article Where Does ‘Godzilla Minus One’ Fit on the Franchise’s Timeline?
Godzilla roaring in Godzilla Minus One
Read Article Anxiety’s Voice Actor Understands the Importance of Talking About, Well, Anxiety
Joy and Anxiety standing next to each other
Read Article Sony’s Alamo Drafthouse Purchase Is Another Nail in the Coffin of a Dying Movie Industry
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema logo. The words are in white on a red logo outlined in yellow, and the whole thing is on a black background.
Read Article Looking Back at the Reason Behind Doc Hudson’s Absence From the ‘Cars’ Sequels
Paul Newman as Doc Hudson and Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen in 'Cars'
Read Article So You Want To Find the ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ Claw Machines …
Deadpool sitting behind a snow-covered tree trunk in the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer
Author
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.