The core question of the sci-fi film The Machine is posed by Caity Lotz‘s “Ava,” who as a human was a brilliant programmer/engineer in the area of artificial intelligence. By the time she ponders her nature with the above quote, her personality and memories have been incorporated into a prototype robot, initially designed to help humanity. Indeed, at one point she says she is neither a machine, nor Ava, but her own life.
Convinced his creation has truly gained feelings and “life,” Vincent, played by Toby Stephens, seeks to protect Ava from the British government, which, seeing her powers, sought to harness them instead as a weapon.
Vincent is world-renowned for his work in the field, with the additional subtext of attempting to save his young daughter, afflicted with illness.
The narrative of The Machine, which releases in theaters on Thursday, moves along crisply — maybe too quickly, as it might be interesting to learn more about the AI methods, and soldiers who are being used for experimentation.
Without being preachy, The Machine looks at AI from a couple of perspectives. The British agent Thomson, played by Denis Lawson, in defending his position, explains to Vincent how an unchecked machine that can actually think for itself could soon overrun humans. It’s a legitimate concern, though Vincent dismisses it, believing he knows his machine would not pose such a threat.
But what if it did? Should the next engineer create a robot bent on destruction, what would be the recourse?
The ambiguity of whether the “new” Ava is indeed alive, and the questions that may lead to, gives The Machine added depth. Definitely worth a view by sci-fi fans, or anyone interested in a surprising thought-provoking, entertaining film.