Monday, 28 November 2016
The Machine (2013)
There are a number of DVDs on my shelves that made it there purely because they were cheap. Generally such movies prove to be, shall we say, "less than good", which goes a long way to explaining why they had the price tag they did.
The Machine, on the other hand, proves to be one of those rare-but-happy occasions where the film is significantly better than its discount price point suggests. It also proves to be a happy coincidence that I watched it so soon after Ex Machina, since the two films are thematically much more similar than I expected.
You see, the blurb I read before purchasing this DVD was basically "In the near future a cold war between China and the West threatens to turn hot. Britain's Ministry of Defence has developed a robotics soldier that looks and sounds human, but has strength, speed, and ruthlessness beyond that of any living person. The project is near completion when a bug in the programming causes the prototype to malfunction in a spectacularly violent fashion." Based on that, I was expecting an action movie with a killer robot on the loose and a bunch of humans trying desperately to stay alive.
However, despite the details above all occurring in the film, and there being a number of action sequences within it, this is not an action movie. It's a film that explores questions like "when does a machine become truly self-aware?", "how do we tell?", "what rights does a self-aware machine have?" and "what would such a machine mean for humanity?". As with Ex Machina, it doesn't necessarily have neat answers for all those questions, and there are a couple of shall we say "convenient for plot purposes" coincidences in it, but it is overall an entertaining examination of the concepts it explores. Overall, I'd say I actually liked it more than I did Ex Machina.