I remember reading about this movie back when it was being made and thinking I was looking forward to seeing it, then it seemed to vanish. Now that it’s popped back up again, was it as good as I hoped?
Antonio Banderas plays insurance agent Jacq Vaucan who investigates cases of robots, mostly the Automata Pilgrim 7000, violating their second primary protocol. First primary protocol: a robot cannot harm a living thing, the second protocol: a robot cannot alter itself or another robot.
This takes place in the year 2044 when 99.7% of the population has been killed off by solar flares which have also made a lot of the planet inhabitable. The robots, built by ROC robotics corporation, were designed to help rebuild the world but have ended up doing everything you imagine robots could do, helping the elderly, bringing up babies etc.
Dylan McDermott (Olympus Has Fallen, In The Line Of Fire) plays police officer Sean Wallace who claims to have seen a robot altering itself, which he promptly shoots in the head. What follows is the investigation of Vaucan as he attempts to uncover what’s going on which, unsurprisingly, has far reaching consequences.
Spanish director Gabe Ibáñez (Hierro) is behind the camera as well as being on writing duties alongside Igor Legarreta (The Great Zambini) and Javier Sánchez Donate (Obi).
How to describe the film, well the City shots certainly look like Blade Runner, perhaps the rain didn’t help this, but also large, blue-ish holographs play out around the city depicting boxing matches or, well, I’m not sure what else. The apartments gave me flashbacks of The Fifth Element and the overall story, robots not really welcome by the humans, had the merest hint of District 9.
Banderas is good as Vaucan, a man who just wants to do right by his family, who believes there’s more out there than the City they live in. McDermott, who I initially thought was Sharlto Copley (perhaps where the District 9 thing comes in), plays…well, he plays the sort of role Copley has played in District 9 and Elysium.
Melanie Griffith, in a blink and you’ll miss her role, plays a ‘clocksmith’, someone who changes the programming and appearance of robots, Robert Forster plays Banderas’s boss, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Borgen, Game of Thrones) plays Banderas’s wife and then there’s the token British actors as the bad guys: Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill, Utopia) and David Ryall (Harry Potter, City of Ember).
So, good cast, decent performances, not bad visual effects, good movie…right? I’d like to say yes but something just didn’t quite click for me. Characters, other than Banderas’s, weren’t really explored, they seemed to pop-up when required then vanished, Griffith’s character is a prime example. Also, as the second primary protocol had been changed, why couldn’t the first be changed as well? Seemed odd they’d keep that in given their general dislike of us.
Not a bad movie, but not something I’ll be talking about for days to come, in fact, I’d forgotten to write this review when I actually saw it…
You can buy Automata on DVD over on Amazon: Automata (DVD)
You can buy Automata on Blu-Ray and Digital Copy over on Amazon: Automata (Blu-Ray + Digital Copy)