By Don Morton
October 27, 2023
In a future war between humans and AI, a hardened veteran soldier is tasked with hunting down and killing (or decommissioning or deactivating or erasing) the mysterious architect of an advanced AI weapon. But his values get a makeover when he discovers that the target weapon comes in the form of an adorable little girl.
I caught it in IMAX and was suitably entertained but left the theater without any real desire to urge moviegoers to rush to see it. The director is Gareth Edwards. He gave us Godzilla in 2014 and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016. Neither garnered great critical acclaim, but they showed that Edwards knows his way around a big-deal sci-fi epic. And I liked that he largely eschews green-screen CGI in favor of more traditional special effects.
First, the movie’s strengths. It gets points for addressing, if somewhat obliquely, the overarching issue of our day, artificial intelligence. The acting is solid. John David Washington (Denzel’s kid) puts in a personal best in the lead role, Allison Janney is fierce as the leader of the elite human military squad, and newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles convinces as the title entity. Gemma Chan and Ken Watanabe also appear.
But going against it is, first, its own overblown promotion. The ads scream “redefining the genre,” and “bold new vision.” That’s a lot to live up to. Secondly, for a movie so named, it’s been criticized for being derivative. And it is, unapologetically so. Edwards rationalizes this by calling the many references to Star Wars, The Terminator, Avatar, Interstellar and others “homages.” That seems to me pretty lame.
All in all, as a sci-fi romp, it’s a good time at the movies (big screen, please), but you’ll enjoy it better if you go in with more modest expectations than the hype might indicate. (133 min)
Out in theatres now.