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Film / Replicas

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"What if something horrible goes wrong?"
"Something already has."

Replicas is a 2018 science fiction thriller film, starring Keanu Reeves.

Reeves plays William Foster, a neuroscientist experimenting in transferring human consciousness from one body to another. The film opens with Foster and his lab partner, Ed Whittle — Played by Thomas Middleditch — attempting to transfer the mind of a soldier who was recently killed in combat to a robotic body, effectively bringing him back to life. The experiment works on a technical level, but after only a few seconds of consciousness, the soldier panics and begins ripping his new mechanical body apart, forcing Foster to pull the plug on him and declare the experiment a failure.

The day after the experiment, William and his family take a vacation. En route to their destination, the family runs into an intense thunderstorm. Lightning strikes a tree, which causes a branch to break through the windshield and impale William's wife Mona — played by Alice Eve — and ultimately causes their van to swerve off the road into a lake. Foster's entire family is killed, save for William himself.


Desperate, William contacts Ed and begs him to retrieve equipment from their lab, so that he can clone new bodies for his family, finally succeed in his project in transferring human consciousness, and save his family.

Replicas provides examples of:

  • Back from the Dead: William manages to revive his family using their copied minds and cloned bodies. Near the end he also revives Jones.
  • Brain Uploading: William's research involves copying a person's mind and transferring it to a new body, either robotic or a clone of their original one.
  • Came Back Wrong: The soldier that William revives at the start of the movie cannot seem to remember who he is, then starts panicking and ripping his new, robotic body apart and bashing his own head in. Subverted though for his family and the later robot he places a copy of his own mind into, after he makes it think it's in an organic body, along with Jones at the end.
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  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Compared to most Cyberpunk and Biopunk stories, this one ends with a happy ending of William and his family living peacefully.
  • Emergency Transformation: Most of William's patients were people that had recently died who could be saved by uploading their consciousness into a new body.
  • Eye Scream: The way people's memories are extracted from their brains... yeah. Amped up a bit when William decides to copy his own memories by himself, while he's awake!
  • Grounded Forever: William, in his efforts to convince everyone his family is still alive, pretends to be them through texts and email. When he discovers a boy has been flirting with his older daughter, he texts the boy using her phone, telling him she's grounded until she's 18.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Subverted. William doesn't believe that there's anything more to a person's mind than just the neurochemistry which makes up their brains, rejecting any soul. His wife Mona is dismayed by this materialist view, trying to dissuade him from it. Yet he is never anything less than a good man. He later manages to successfully revive both her and most of their children through copying their minds into some cloned bodies, which isn't portrayed as bad.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: William erases all memory of Zoe, his youngest daughter, since he was unable to save her along with the rest of his family and didn't want it to be traumatizing for them.
  • Karma Houdini: William, in his own words, breaks every law of nature to get his family back. This is in addition to breaking several laws of man, disobeying his boss, stealing his family's memories, getting his partner in crime killed, and creating a robot duplicate of himself presumably with the same memories and desires. Despite all that, he gets to live happily ever after, with no lingering conflict or guilt.
  • Plot Armor: William survives the car crash that killed his entire family with nary a scratch, for no real reason beyond being the main character.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: The film deals with a lot of the cyberpunk themes, such as many technological developments often considered dangerous or controversial (brain uploading, cloning, robots) along with a huge nefarious corporation (plus the government it's working with) but treats using such technology as not inherently bad, just risky (partly due to their kinks, plus what people will do to have it). Though it isn't easy, with enough effort they can be used safely and lead to a happy ending. Meanwhile, the world looks exactly the same.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Ed takes a bullet to the head, and he (and his surroundings) look remarkably clean afterward.
  • The Reveal: William's boss, Jones, knew all along that William and Ed stole the technology from Bionyne to clone William's family. He allowed it to happen because he knew it would lead to the breakthrough that Bionyne was in need of. After William is successful, Jones attempts to have the Fosters assassinated and William's research stolen.
  • Robot Me: Towards the end of the film William copies his own consciousness and uploads it to a robot body. The human William gets to leave with his family, while the robot William goes off-grid to protect their research.
  • Sadistic Choice: Bionyne only has three cloning pods, meaning that William cannot save all four members of his family and is forced to choose one to sacrifice.
  • Techno Babble: The movie's opening scene has the scientists use a lot of science buzzwords and concepts that really don't make any sense.
  • Un-person: William erases his family's memories of Zoe and throws everything belonging to her in the trash, since he was unable to clone her and he didn't want them to live with that knowledge.
  • What Have I Become?: William was unable to save his earlier patients because their organic minds still believed that they were in their organic bodies, and panicked when they realized their bodies felt different. William is able to fix this by writing an algorithm that tricks the mind into thinking that it is still in an organic body.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Jones kills Ed, after he gets him to confess that he stole the cloning technology from Bionyne.