Jason v Jason

Published date14 May 2024
Publication titleSignal
I feel as if I’ve been living in a parallel universe since about 2016. Everything intangible we depend on — democracy, the rule of law, policing by trust, yadda yadda yadda — is going terrifyingly wrong. Reality has become disorientating enough without the world of entertainment spinning me out into multiple universes too. But the multiverse is having a moment (or technically many moments), what with the Marvel Cinematic Universe providing such fertile and lucrative ground for its heroes and the Oscar-winning likes of Everything Everywhere All At Once or Constellation. I’ll throw Netflix’s 3 Body Problem in too, because a fictional past, present and future Earth in the same storyline feels close enough

Now we have Blake Crouch’s nine-part adaptation of his own book of the same name, Dark Matter. Physics professor Jason Dessen (Joel Edgerton) — hereafter known as Jason 1 — is leading a quiet life teaching then coming home each night to his loving wife, Daniela (Jennifer Connelly), and engaging teenage son Charlie (Oakes Fegley). If there is a flicker behind his eyes when his friend and college contemporary Ryan (Jimmi Simpson) wins a prestigious physics prize, well, we’ve all had moments of wondering about the road not taken, have we not?

But it turns out that if you’re a physics genius, you don’t have to wonder. You can find out. So it is that Jason 1 is kidnapped and drugged by Jason 2 (Edgerton also), the version of himself that dedicated his life to science, became rich and famous, and secretly developed a way of hopping across universes to substitute himself for Jason 1 so he could enjoy all the blessings of family life and leave his other self apparently amnesiac in Jason 2’s world.

From there, two very enjoyable storylines unfold. One is a domestic thriller, as Jason 2 tries to avoid being unmasked as an impostor by looking up the dinner party guests he is supposed to have known for years and working out how to parent responsibly.

The other is the science-fiction fun, as Jason 1 gradually...

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