I, Robot

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
Like They say, yesterday’s paranoia is today’s reality. One look at MTV, or London’s electronic surveillance web, or the careers of Dick Cheney or Silvio Berlusconi, says it’s no longer any great imaginative leap to much of the twentieth century’s classic science-fiction premonitions. Which, along with the refinement of fantasy-realising special effects, is perhaps why sci-fi has risen up the ranks of Hollywood’s favourite exploitation genres. There’s certainly more technical than imaginative expense on show in ‘I, Robot’, a steely proficient facsimile of umpteen of its forerunners.

‘Suggested by’ Isaac Asimov’s 1950 story collection of the same name, the film opens quoting his Three Laws of Robotics (robots are coded to protect humans, obey humans and survive, in that order), before pitching us into the life of Will Smith’s agent Del Spooner, the last luddite cop in Chicago, 2035. Spooner has bad dreams, a buff bod, and a neurosis about modern automata that manifests itself in a fetish for vintage 2004 footwear and gadgetry (conveniently allowing various contemporary advertisers to pitch us their products from the future). Spooner’s heckles rise when his old doctor buddy Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) takes a dive out of his reinforced office window at the heart of the corporate behemoth US Robotics, and can find no one to point the finger at, save for a curiously idiosyncratic NS5 robot prototype. But the company is busy rolling out millions of its new models to households around the country, and wants no crack cop upsetting the cart.
Pecs under wraps, Smith tones down his sass, slipping efficiently into the film’s machine-tooled design scheme. It hasn’t a speck of originality, and would be more involving as a computer-game, but there are several sfx set-pieces that give great pneumatic spectacle, and the whole impersonal, cautionary concoction offers the salient sight of the machine pulping itself.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Monday September 6 2004
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Bridget Moynahan
Alan Tudyk
James Cromwell
Will Smith
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