(director: April Mullen; screenwriter: Ryan Christopher Churchill; cinematographer: Russ De Jong; editor: Orlee Buium; music: Blitz/Berlin; cast: Robbie Amell (Evan), Jordana Brewster (Faye), Simu Liu (Casey Rosen), Mayko Nguyan (Michiko Higashi), Alicia Sanz (Esme), Sam Worthington (Kessler); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tim Doiron/James van der Woerd; Vertical; 2023-Canada)

“Gave me the impression this was just hokum.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Canadian filmmaker April Mullen (“Wander”/”Badsville”) directs and Ryan Christopher Churchill writes the script for this messy Canadian sci-fi thriller set in the near future. It presents a time when there’s an evolved presence of artificial humanoids (SIMs) who live among humans. It questions if the simulants should have the same rights as humans and worries about them getting too many freedoms.

The story follows the android Evan (Robbie Amell), created for the artist Faye (Jordana Brewster) to replace her dead husband who was killed in a fatal car crash. To become fully humanized, Evan has Casey (Simu Liu), a brilliant hacker, remove all restrictions governing simulants in their thoughts and capabilities. In doing so, it unleashes an A.I. uprising, triggering a government manhunt led by Agent Kessler (Sam Worthington), working for the agency called Aice (Artificial Intelligence Compliance Enforcement) to prevent the rise of the android machines.

It questions what it means to be human, as it takes the high concept, used in other sci-fi films, that says that humans and robots can co-exist. Later it backs off realizing how an AI can be harmful to others without any restrictions.

It fails to invest further in social commentary and left me dubious of where it was going, as it goes into action pic mode ignoring its visions of what’s in store for the future. It gave me the impression this was just hokum.

REVIEWED ON 5/15/2023  GRADE: C+