The Machine, though not incredibly unique, manages to carve out it’s spot in sci-fi with interesting characters and a compelling story. Taking place in the not-so-distant future, The Machine chronicles a cold war between China and Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) by way of a race to the first functioning AI soldier. Veteran AI Engineer Vincent (Toby Stephens, Black Sails) sees promise in brilliant, young Ava (Caity Lots, Arrow). Combining his existing work with her advanced AI protocols, they are able to create the first truly autonomous artificially intelligent being. When Ava is murdered by the Chinese, her likeness is used for their creation. As it tends to be with many scientific breakthroughs the creators have different ideas than the government, and things go awry. It is in this tension that brings about some of the most poignant moments in The Machine.
This film could have easily been a straight up sci-fi action movie. It has a lot of those elements, and overall, they are done well. However, what really caught my interest was Caity Lots’ portrayal of a now sentient being trying to understand the world she was thrust into. She desires to be good, but it is pressed to kill. “Don’t let them take me again,” she says to Vincent after a particularly traumatic encounter with the man who killed her creator. Throughout the movie you really care about the relationship forming between Vincent and Ava. The majority of the supporting roles are one-dimensional, you know they’re bad but that’s about all you will get. For the most part, that is okay because this movie is all about the change taking place in Vincent as he comes to understand what he created. Though in the beginning he coldly refers to Ava as “it,” throughout their time together he begins to truly care for her and see her truly alive. The relationship that forms is not a romantic one but that of a man astounded by his creation and recognizing his responsibility to guide her.
For the most part, The Machine takes place in the Underground somewhat distopian Bunker where Ava is created. The dark, minimalistic concrete bunker fits the futuristic secretive tone of the movie and allows for some very cool scenes toying with the concept of light and dark. The concept of light and dark carries into the characters as well. Vincent and Ava act as the forces of light and peace while the MOD act as the brooding dark force as they try to use this new technology to further their war efforts.
This movie, as you can probably expect, has it’s fair share of violence. Unexpected, at least to me, were the scenes showing Ava in different forms of undress. None of these scenes are sexual in nature and often light and dark are used to hide details, but it should be noted anyways.
If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi action it’s possible The Machine, winner of several independent film awards, may be just what you’re looking for. Check it out! Let me know what you think, comment below!
Review in a Tweet:
“[R] Great compelling Sci-Fi Action film with moments of unexpected heart. Violence & ‘hidden’ nudity.” #christcorenet”