The Creator’s ingenious android action will set your seat rattling

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M, 133 minutes. In cinemas September 28

The Creator is not the first film to bring us androids who can think, feel and entertain grand schemes. There are lots of them and one is unforgettable. The “tears in rain” monologue delivered by Rutger Hauer’s android at the end of Blade Runner is, to me, one of cinema’s greatest moments.

Madeline Voyles as Alphie in The Creator.Credit: 20th Century Studios

The Creator doesn’t achieve that degree of tragic purity. Writer-director Gareth Edwards and his collaborator, Chris Weitz (About a Boy), have crafted a script which tries so hard to cover all the ethical dilemmas posed by the rise of artificial intelligence that I’m not sure what it’s meant to be saying.

We’re in yet another dystopia. Sci-fi films stopped giving us any good news about the future long ago, and here, the world is in particularly dire straits. Los Angeles has been virtually wiped out by armies of androids – or AI simulants, as they’re called – and Western nations have reacted by banning AI altogether. Asian countries, on the other hand, have carried on refining the technology to a point where humanoids have the same rights as human beings. As a result, East and West are at war.

Ken Watanabe in The Creator. Credit: 20th Century Studios

Edwards, who is British, announced himself as a sci-fi talent in 2010 with Monsters, an entertaining alien invasion movie starring two human actors and a plethora of special effects produced on a budget of $500,000, and this film displays the same degree of ingenuity. He filmed in locations in South-East Asia, and his battered-looking future world has a convincing resonance, as do his battle scenes, which come with explosions loud enough to rattle your seat. The problem is that their impact is dulled by repetition.

Our guide through the chaos is Joshua Taylor (John David Washington), a former US special forces agent who reluctantly agrees to undertake a mission because it might help him find his lost love, Maya (Gemma Chan), an Easterner he met while working undercover five years earlier. He’s to join a group who are out to penetrate enemy lines and destroy the East’s most lethal weapon.

As things progress, his fellow agents – under the leadership of a battle-hardened Allison Janney – turn out to be more thuggish than the opposition. What’s more, the lethal weapon turns out to be an especially beguiling simulant – a six year-old girl with a taste for ice cream, soft toys and television cartoons who has no idea she had been programmed to become a time-bomb.

It’s a fanciful scenario which needs close attention if you’re to follow its many twists and turns but the volume and frequency of those bomb blasts don’t exactly aid concentration. There are also large holes in the plot and a weird fairytale ending which seems completely at odds with all that’s gone before. It’s a pity. Edwards, who started out as a visual effects designer, can certainly make a film look good.

The Creator is in cinemas from September 28.

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