Title: The Machine
Director: Caradog W. James
Starring: Toby Stephens, Caity Lotz, Denis Lawson
Running time: 91 Minutes, Rate R, In theaters 04.25.14
Vincent (Toby Stephens), a reclusive computer programmer is running a sham competition, promising a huge grant to any programmer that can come up with a form of artificial intelligence after his own program to rehabilitate soldiers with brain injuries fails with horrific results. A woman named Ava (Caity Lotz) comes to him with her own design, a program that is self aware. After being told the grant is actually a job interview, she decides to take it anyway. Together they form a bond and he popes they can create an android to house his dying daughter’s consciousness, however the British government wants it for themselves to make super soldiers and they murder Ava. Vincent, still pained by her loss creates a cyborg in her likeness and implanted with her own program. Can he teach her to use her body for good, or will the government train her to be a killing machine?
The good: This film is very much like a wannabe Blade Runner. Caity Lotz (Arrow) is apparently a dancer, and the scene where the machine silently dances nude while glowing is pretty magical, and somewhat reminiscent of Pris in Blade Runner. The sexual tension was there between first Ava and Vincent and then with The Machine, and it leaves you wondering if she’s anatomically correct or if she’s just a killer kewpie doll. The fight scenes are good, the special effects are pretty good considering the budget. The scene where she kills a guy in a clown mask was pretty memorable since she does it with just her finger.
The bad: Lot of plot holes and parts that drag. I wasn’t really sure where they were going with the storyline involving Vincent’s daughter. He wants to save her program, but it’s not like it’s his real daughter. She still speaks and functions like a machine, but with a little girl’s voice. The ending was disappointing. Almost reminiscent of the theatrical ending of Blade Runner but without the voiceover. The Vangelis-like score isn’t helping it break away from the connection either.
The story was somewhat original, yet had heavy influence from established films; I’ve heard Metropolis and Robocop thrown around. Some may not remember a little film called Eve of Destruction which I quickly connected to this one, and not just because of the female cyborg. It’s a fun, smart and stunning sci-fi action flick. Some thought actually went into the script and doesn’t feel like a bunch of mindless techie jargon was vomited out on laptop at Starbucks.
Total Rating: B
Reviewed by: JM Willis