"?In a stand out performance, Caity Lotz gives vulnerability and heart to the newly awakened automaton"
For his sophomore film The Machine writer-director Caradog James’ has assembled an exceptional cast, which is headed by Arrow's Caity Lotz who plays opposite the fantastic Toby Stephens. Set in a not too distant future where medical science has advanced to the point where the human consciousness can be mapped out and hard wired into a machine in an attempt to create the first artificial intelligence.
As the film opens we are introduced to Vincent (Stephens), a renowned Scientist working for a secret branch of the Government developing weapons. Things are inevitably not quite what they seem, we quickly learn that Vincent hasn’t quite sold his soul to the warmongering government, but his motive for being in the employee of the Ministry of Defence is in the pursuit of a noble cause that derives from personal tragedy.
James’ masterstroke is the tragic fates of his two lead characters. If we enter Vincent’s story mid tragedy then the beautiful and brilliant Eva (Lotz) is yet to begin her descent into tragedy, and in an effort to continue their work together to develop artificial intelligence, Vincent has her consciousness and likeness transferred to a machine which merges the identity of the human woman and Artificial Intelligence.
Much of the film explores the maturing of The Machine as she undertakes her journey to become more human that is until Denis Lawson's villainous and blackly humorous Thompson begins to pursue his own dastardly ambitions. It is here that the story evolves into a tale of good versus evil, as we witness Thompson manipulate the Machine's evolution to become a weapon that undermines its creator’s noble ambitions.
In a stand out performance, Caity Lotz gives vulnerability and heart to the newly awakened automaton, capturing the essence of childhood fears of spiders and clowns whilst looming as a potential object we should fear.
Sam Hazeldine as amputee James and Pooneh Hajimohammadi as the seemingly mute Suri are two of the supporting cast who shine alongside Denis Lawson’s company man. The villain of the piece, Thompson’s logic is not beyond our comprehension, and with a mix of humour he is a compelling character at the heart of the conflict.
A beautifully crafted film, the special effects are employed wisely, the story never hinging on them, used only as a means to enhance the spectacle, as the journey we undertake with Vincent and Ava unfolds.
Working on a shoestring budget, writer-director Caradog James should be heaped with praise for the gem of a movie he has crafted. With all the potential to be a modern classic, and whilst definite shades of the sci-fi classic Blade Runner are visible, The Machine stands on its own merit.
Where do they go from here, because the story of The Machine is far from over, the potential for a series that moves beyond this, its first chapter?