April 28, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the age of Dolly the sheep, a cloning thriller isn’t quite the far-fetched cheesy proposition it might once have seemed in the demon-seed ’70s. There is now a plausible creep factor to the question of how much you is contained in your cells. Godsend, unfortunately, blows every chance for lurid psychological fun. When Paul and Jessie Duncan (Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) lose their 8-year-son, Adam (Cameron Bright), in a car accident, they agree to let Dr. Richard Wells (Robert De Niro), head of the secretive Godsend Fertility Clinic, mastermind a cloned pregnancy from the dead boy’s DNA. The new Adam is the spitting image of the old one, but the resemblance ends there. The first Adam smiled a lot and was partial to stegosaurs and pumped athletic shoes; his clone stares sullenly and draws a crayon picture of a building on fire. He also has nightmares in which he’s menaced by what appears to be a malevolent twin. Meet the new Adam: Sensitive Omen Kid.

None of this is very compelling, since there’s virtually no personality overlap between Adam and his clone. We’re just seeing the umpteenth recycled shocker about a mystical dark child with an aura of disaster. De Niro, who tries to make Wells so bland that he’s sinister, succeeds only at the first half of that equation. Kinnear and Romijn-Stamos aren’t terrible, but when actors this sleek looking have to do this much grieving, you never quite forget that you’re watching actors. A good human-replication thriller may yet be on the horizon, but not if it clones as many bad ideas as ”Godsend” does.

102 minutes
Dimension Films
Complete Coverage

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