The two major themes are frequent
assumptions in recent movies:
the first, that the near future of the Earth is
very bleak: in
this case, sunstorms are going to ravage the atmosphere and create so much
radiation that 97% of the world’s population is wiped out, and the ones who
remain are huddled in decaying cities, trying to survive in a bleak landscape
with little hope for the future.
The humans who remained were at least
technologically advanced enough to create robots, called “Pioneers,” who
were supposed to clean up the air and the water and make the world hospitable
for humans once again. But
the “Pioneers” fail to solve the enormous atmospheric issues, and they are
now only good for “domestics” or other types of servants.
Ah, but this is where sin and
utter depravity intervene (John Calvin would have been proud).
Somebody has taken some of the robots and rebuilt
were supposed to have two unalterable protocols:
one, that they could not harm humans, and two,
that they could not modify other robots.
But apparently nobody considered that the robots
themselves might evolve:
which is the other nightmare of those who fear
the development of “artificial intelligence.”
Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas)
works for the insurance agency that is supposed to guarantee that the robots
will function as designed.
Of course, the warranty is only in effect if the
hardware is not tampered with, and Jacq, to his chagrin, finds evidence of
just that. But
his malaise is not just about his job, and the corporate thugs he seems to
work for; his wife, Rachel (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) is pregnant, and Jacq
dreams of raising their child in a better place, where there is fresh air, and
is nostalgic about a trip to the seaside as a little boy, where he played in
the sand, and ran headlong into the gentle surf, and the bleak urban wasteland
he now inhabits seems farther removed than his boyhood memories.
When Jacq investigates the
alterations of the company’s rogue robots, he discovers a couple of awful
the founders of his company admit that the preventive protocols were
themselves designed by the robots, which, of course, means that they could be
de-programmed, as well. Jacq
also stumbles upon a little colony of self-sustaining robots---one of whom is
a refugee from a pornographic studio?---who mechanically predict that the
future belongs to them. (Don’t
worry, they assure him, the human spirit will live on in us, even though you
will be extinct.)
Jacq is not so much interested in saving
the human race as he is preserving his own little family, but somehow the two
get intertwined, and it all boils down to a survivalist kind of
fight-to-the-finish where the humans and robots wind up choosing sides despite
the way they are both programmed to think.
The moral to the story?
Better enjoy those family beach vacations now;
Armageddon could be closer than we think.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Parish
Associate at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas