It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Well-timed to open soon after genome pioneer Craig Venter's announcement of a self-replicating cell, here's a halfway serious science-fiction movie about two researchers who slip some human DNA into a cloning experiment, and end up with a unexpected outcome or a child or a monster, take your pick. The script blends human psychology with scientific speculation and has genuine interest until it goes on autopilot with one of the chase scenes Hollywood now permits few films to end without.
In the laboratory of a genetic science corporation, we meet Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley), partners at work and in romance, who are trying to create a hybrid animal gene that would, I dunno, maybe provide protein while sidestepping the nuisance of having it be an animal first. Against all odds, their experiment works. They want to push ahead, but the corporation has funded quite enough research for the time being and can't wait to bring the “product” to market.
Elsa rebels and slips some human DNA into their lab work. What results is a new form of life, part animal, part human, looking at first like a rounded SpongeBob and then later like a cute kid on Pandora, but shorter and not blue. This creature grows at an astonishing rate, gets smart in a hurry and is soon spelling out words on a Scrabble board without apparently having paused at the intermediate steps of learning to read and write.
Clive thinks they should terminate it. Elsa says no. As the blob grows more humanoid, they become its default parents, and she names it Dren, which is nerd spelled backward, so don't name your kid that.