Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Where occupying provinces for strategic advantage used to be what pitted nations against one another, in the near future it's technology that is the new battleground and this cold war puts the Super power China against Super Power Great Britain… uh… okay.  Anyway, neural robotics expert Dr. Vincent McCarthy has been working on this fancy tech to help severely damaged soldiers recover faster and as we can see from one of his early tests, it's time to go back to the drawing board in the worst way. 

What Vincent needs is a new form of Artificial Intelligence and he actually has farmed this task out to the brightest and the best in the field in the form of a competition, and while most of the participants were lacking in some way or the other, Dr. Ava (Caity Lotz) has broken the code with her A.I. and now she's on the team to help make a bigger, better, smarter soldier.

There are a couple of things though, Vincent could care less about weapons and is just trying to use the neural advances he's creating to help save his autistic, terminally ill daughter.  It seems Ava also doesn't care much about weapons either since she seems to have an ulterior motive for worming her way into this super-secret, high level military industrial facility.  The boss however, Mr. Thomson (Denis Lawson), has no ulterior motive and just wants weapons that will kill and when he sees Ava snooping around things she should not be snooping around… let's just say he's not happy about this. 

Now Vincent is working alone again, but at least he has Ava's tech and he combines it with the advances he's already made to create a most awesome machine, and to honor Ava he creates this machine in her image.
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It doesn't take long to realize that this machine is special.  It is childlike, but it wants and needs to learn.  It seems to have emotions, and it wants to understand the deeper meaning of life.  This probably is not a good thing for a machine if one was to ask me, but there it is.  There is also some strangeness going on at this facility in the cybernetic enhanced soldiers that guard this place that seem to be plotting something or another, not sure what though.  But it can't be a good thing, if one was to ask me.

Thomson could care less about this machines ability to think, learn and love.  In fact those things are all counterproductive to the one thing that he needs this machine to do.  And Vincent had best fix this situation or there will be consequences and repercussions. 

Recognize that this machine doesn't want to be 'fixed', and while there will be consequences, I don't know if these are the kind of consequences that Thomson was looking for.  And don't forget about those cybernetically enhanced soldiers either.  If this was a different kind of movie, there would be a new age dawning before us.  Fortunately, at least as of today, this isn't that kind of movie.

Writer / Director Caradog W. James film 'The Machine' is an interesting film, and a misleading one of you based your desire to see it off of the trailer.  The trailer would have you thinking that what we have with this is movie is an action packed, sentient machine gone wacky scenario when in reality it is really nothing of the sort.  There are action sequences in the film, but these scenes are sporadic and evenly placed.   And at no point does the machine lose control.  She fights for her survival, but she doesn't 'lose control'.

No, what 'The Machine' really happens to be is soulful science fiction.  One based more on concepts and ideas over action, and a story that places the bulk of its weight on its characters.  True, some of these ideas and concepts may seem a little derivative to you, but not as derivative as some would have you believe.  I've read of references to 'The Terminator', but besides the fact that both movies feature robots sheathed in skin, there aren't that many similarities.  Now somewhere down the line I would fully expect these robots to kill us all and take over the world, but then again… it's not that kind of movie.  I have also read references comparing this to 'Blade Runner'.  Maybe, I mean I can see some Roy Batty in Ava the machine, but that would be a fleeting reference if you were to ask me.   If anything, this movie has closer blood ties 'D.A.R.Y.L' but that's going way back and is crazy obscure so we will probably have to pass on that reference as well.

What sells 'The Machine' is the solid story that it is built upon, and a very good performance put forth by Caity Lotz.  Initially, one would think Ms. Lotz acquired this role more for her physical gifts and her athleticism, and while the young lady is physically gifted and athletic, she also imbues Ava the machine with a childlike wonder which over a believable period of time transforms into a brutal will to survive.  Toby Stevens was good in this movie too, though he had a permanent mad-on.

There were empty spaces in the film where it tended to drag, and the pacing was at times erratic.  I also don't think the cybernetic soldier storyline was developed well enough as there seemed to be more that could have been done with it.  But all that being said, 'The Machine' is authentic Science Fiction with a slick look and fine performances that make it a very good watch.
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