Greg Kinnear (Mystery Men)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Cameron Bright (Juno)
Deborah Odell (Mutant X)
Chris Britton (Silent Hill)
Paul and Jessie Duncan (Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn) are a happily married couple who have an eight-year-old son named Adam (Cameron Bright). The day after his eighth birthday, when fetching a basketball he was given into the street, Adam is killed in a collision. While leaving a church, Jessie and Paul are confronted by Dr. Richard Wells (Robert De Niro), an old professor of Jessie’s. He offers to clone Adam, an illegal procedure which would require a change of location and identity, to which the Duncans reluctantly agree. Everything appears to be fine with the new Adam until he reaches his eighth birthday. That night, he experiences a violent nightmare. Richard explains to Paul that it is typical for boys his age to have night terrors, and that it is not serious. He explains that because Adam II has reached the age at which the original Adam died, his life cannot be predicted anymore. From that moment on, Adam II continues to have night terrors until they become visions and he starts having them when he’s wide awake, losing control of his actions.
Adam’s visions are recurrent: he witnesses a boy named Zachary (Devon Bostick) walking around in a school building while being laughed at by other children. These images alternate with images of the school burning, and children screaming, and the image of an unidentified woman being attacked and killed with a hammer. Adam’s visions affect his daytime personality, making him bitter, delinquent, and uncooperative, especially so to a child that goes to his school and bullies him. One night at dinner, Jessie receives a telephone call from the parent of that child, distressed that her child is missing. Jessie tells Paul, who then asks what Adam was doing that day. Adam says that he was at the river playing. When Paul asks who he was playing with, Adam responds that he’s “not supposed to say”. The next day, as the Duncans are driving on their way home over a bridge, they are slowed by a police officer. They walk to the side of the bridge to see the woman who had telephoned about her missing child the previous night, screaming at the sight of her son being retrieved by paramedics from a river where he had drowned. Paul believes Adam was involved with the child’s death.
By examining Adam and talking to him about his visions, with the help of Richard, Paul finally finds out that the school in Adam’s visions is called Saint Pius and that Zachary’s last name is Clark. With this information, he is able to track down the child’s address and find a former nanny of Zachary. The nanny informs Paul that Zachary was deeply disturbed. He was bullied at school tremendously, and in wake of his emotions, he set fire to the school. When he returned home, Zachary killed his mother with a hammer before setting fire to their house, and burning the two of them together. When he asks the nanny, Paul learns that the father of this child, Zachary Clark, was a geneticist—enough information to uncover that this man was none other than Richard Wells himself, living now under a false identity. Through the operation to clone Adam, Richard had secretly mixed Adam’s DNA with that of Zachary (as the fire damaged Zachary’s DNA to where it could not be cloned without the assistance of other living cells) with the hope of bringing his own son back to life, rather than Adam, and then stealing him. The operation did not yield a complete success. After arguing with Richard and learning what has caused Adam’s erratic behavior, Paul races home and finds Adam and Jessie in the shed in the woods, arriving just in the nick of time to stop Adam (with Zachary’s personality in control) from killing Jessie with a hammer, in nearly the same way as Zachary had killed his mother. Adam’s personality manages to regain control and everything seems to be okay.
In an attempt to shake the psychological transitions from Adam to Zachary, the Duncans escape from Richard and move to a different neighborhood. All seems well; Adam is friendly and happy, but as he is left alone in his room, Adam hears a noise in the closet. When he opens it, a slightly burnt and decayed arm, wearing the jersey that Zachary always did in the vision, reaches out from the darkness of the closet and pulls him in. Paul comes back to check on him, looks in the closet, and doesn’t see anybody. Adam appears from behind and touches him, shocking him, indicating that Zachary has regained control.Godsend is one of the few cases where copious DVD extras may have hurt the film more than helped. The DVD contains four alternate endings, averaging about 12 minutes long each. These occasionally deviate strongly from the theatrical ending, but none seem quite satisfying (all of the more nihilistic endings that Hamm described on his commentary but which apparently weren’t shot would have done the trick for me; I also liked the filmed tag suggesting a sequel). They all tend to drag on, an impression that isn’t helped by the lack of a score and a sound effects soundtrack. Also curious, given Hamm’s dislike of the fantasy aspects of genre films, is the fact that the crux of the “twist” in Godsend is extremely loopy. What’s happening with Adam makes little sense from a realistic/scientific standpoint, and how it happened just isn’t possible. Of course, I’m not averse to fantasy, and I don’t subtract points for elements in film that are wildly divergent from our beliefs and understanding of the actual world. But if Hamm is going to abandon realism when it comes to important plot points, why not abandon it wholesale, so that we can maybe see a film that deserves an A instead?