Best Brit cyber-punk sci-fi in years

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helruna's review of The Machine (2013)


“Best Brit cyber-punk sci-fi in years”

Written on: 12/04/2014 by helruna (36 reviews written)

New on the scene Welsh director Caradog James directs a really good, gritty but very low budget sci-fi cyberpunk thriller with panache. The script is very good and deals with the nature of love and morality.

In the future there is a Cold War between China and the West. The West is loosing and needs stronger cybernetics and AI's to lead the war. The story follows a MOD lead cybernetic programmer - Vincent, who recruits a new programmer - Ava who has the basis of a self-aware and conscious AI. They fuse his present work with her AI to create The Machine. This is a self aware AI and its 'being' raises questions for the MOD and to the programmers if IT exists.

Ava lends her image to the AI as a template / safety net so they can test responces. Her machine's naive ethics / morality as its baseline for living a 'good' life. Ava later starts to investigate the MOD's hidden research at the lab which opens up a can of worms. Vincent has his own reasons for wanting to create this AI and this leads him to turning a blind eye to the MOD's real reason for creating a war cyborg [not a self conscious AI]. It's safe to assume that the MOD wish to protect their investment at any cost.

Like Ghost in The Shell, the film tackles the nature of consciousness, humanity and what it is 'to be' without having to explain the 'how', 'why' and 'what if'. The script contrasts the humanity of the lead protagonst and the Machine vs. humans who are amoral. In addition, the movie starts the idea that it will be possible to have 'ghosts'.

The downsides: The movie is low budget, which one only realises due to the fact there's not that many locations in the movie. I believe most of the budget was blown on the CGI of the Machine and computer displays. The scripting and themes tackled are very good. The finale, some of the extra's costumes and bullets which don't hit their target and extras in balaclavas looks a little cheap. Saying that, the movie ends up being very interesting. I have not come across as good cyber-punk sci-fi like this in years. I seriously recommend watching it!

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