In the not-too-distant future, a robotic police force serves and protects dystopian Johannesburg, but the ambitious engineer who designed them (Dev Patel) aspires to create a completely sentient model. When he succeeds, the impressionable droid falls prey to various interlopers, including some exploitive gangsters (played by rap group Die Antwoord) and a rival engineer who wants it destroyed (Hugh Jackman). This doesn't have many original ideas, though I had fun picking out all the references to other SF movies (RoboCop
, and The Terminator
, to name a few). Like director Neill Blomkamp's previous features (District 9
), the film suffers from pretentious allegory and half-baked social commentary, its familiar themes easily traced back to Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov. The special effects are incredible (especially given the relatively small budget), but the flat digital cinematography renders even the most technically impressive action sequence visually stale. With Sigourney Weaver.