Film - The Machine

The Machine

A British Sci-Fi film about Artificial Intelligence is a review job for our own artificially intelligent Steve Taylor-Bryant...

Independent Film, low budget, bit part actors, this is going to be painful. That was my immediate thought when I received a review copy of The Machine from Red and Black Films. I knew nothing of writer and director Caradog James and genuinely expected to sit for 90 minutes and be bored. How very wrong I was!

During a Cold War with China, a new style of arms race has begun. Intelligent machines, indistinguishable from humans, are the way forward and, in an underground bunker, the British Government have employed Dr Vincent McCarthy to design and build the new era of A.I. He needs help with the programming of brains, so hires Ava who has got the closest to achieving complete brain re-programming so far. Together they embark on creating an android but Ava is tragically killed before completion.

Vincent builds a prototype using the measurements and facts already garnered to create a life like replica of Ava - The Machine of the title, artificial intelligence that learns incredibly quickly before it considers itself human.

This is a tale of morality, ethics, and where our obsession with technology could lead us. What Caradog James has produced is a proper science-fiction film that involves science the viewer is aware of and planting the plot in the not so distant future keeps a scary reality flowing through the futuristic script. The vast empty spaces countered by touch screen technology and dark, moody cinematography adds a feel to the film that chills you to your core. The score by Tom Raybould is very electronic and reminiscent of Vangelis and the film has more than a passing likeness to BladeRunner. In fact this is the kind of film Ridley Scott used to make before his Hollywood ego drove his films to effects over story.

The scientific parts are futuristic enough to drive believability in the plot but realistic enough to not lose the viewer in jargon. The relationships are the key to this films success. The relationship between Vincent, Ava, Ava The Machine and his own mentally disabled daughter bring the script to life and the performances of the main two stars are Oscar level. Toby Stephens who plays Dr Vincent McCarthy (Die Another Day/Robin Hood) is long overdue a breakthrough hit after being in the shadows for to long and Caity Lotz is beginning to be noticed, with her starring role in Arrow and The Machine can only enhance her growing career.

The direction by James is only matched by his script. He has produced magic in the knitting of the two. A Hollywood film in scale but a true British film in its delivery of plot. The bar is now set for future science fiction films.

Image - Amazon