If the line of films stretching from Coma to Flatliners to Outbreak and beyond has proven anything, it's that any science-ethics issue can be recycled into a movie. Continuing that tradition, Godsend squeezes the hot topic of human cloning into a don't-look-behind-you thriller that makes The Core look like an episode of Nova. It's a cautionary tale, though it mostly serves as a warning to stay away from future films involving director Nick Hamm and screenwriter Mark Bomback.

Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos star as a happily married couple residing in a nameless, but vaguely Toronto-like, metropolis. In the film's opening sequence, they help their tow-headed son (Cameron Bright) celebrate his 8th birthday. Mere hours later, he's dead, the victim of a badly staged car accident. Despite the warning of an overalls-clad Fred Gwynne, Kinnear and Stamos bury Bright in a nearby pet cemetery reputed to have magical powers over life and death. No, wait, that's a different‚ÄĒalbeit remarkably similar‚ÄĒmovie. Instead, they meet up with a twitchy professor (Robert De Niro) who assures them that he can produce an exact clone of their son. The only catch: They have to sever all ties with their family and friends and move to a rural community in the middle of nowhere.


If Godsend featured sane characters, it would, of course, end right there. Instead, it picks up the story eight years later. Bright's back and looking healthy. (And, like his predecessor, he's named "Adam," of course.) But funny things start to happen after his 8th birthday: He's seized by night terrors, begins having visions of another boy, starts talking back to his parents, and even spits on classmates. Foreshadowing suggests he's capable of even worse. Is he haunted by his former self? Or could De Niro have accidentally leaned on the "evil" switch during the cloning process? The answer is even more ludicrous than might be suspected, but it's so long and clumsy in coming that by the time it arrives, most viewers will likely have lost interest and moved on to questions like, "What's Robert De Niro doing in this piece of crap?" and "Wasn't this same story used in an episode of that terrible '90s version of The Outer Limits?"