I, Robot

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(2004) ★★★½

Channel 4: Sunday 21 June, 10pm

Chicago homicide cop Will Smith is summoned to the scene of an apparent suicide. On the eve of the biggest ever distribution of domestic robots in America, their inventor lies dead in the lobby of the US Robotics corporation. “Robots don’t do people any good,” insists Smith, who makes no secret of his robo-phobia. Yet the three laws of robotics – the perfect circle of protection – ensure that robots cannot commit crime. They certainly cannot harm human beings. And they seem to have licked the logistics of traffic – in the Chicago of 2035 there’s no congestion or parking problems. But when Smith learns that robots are building robots at the USR assembly plant, he’s surely not alone in thinking “That’s just stupid.” These new models, the most sophisticated yet, have been endowed with the ability to simulate emotions. And their positronic brains are on the blink big time. Pandora’s Box has been opened from the inside – and the contents are running amok all over the place. Alan Tudyk gives voice to the amazingly lifelike CGI robot ‘Sonny’ who helps Smith and spirited scientist Bridget Moynahan track down the ghosts in the machine. Isaac Asimov’s rule-setting sci-fi short stories (published in 1950) serve only as a springboard for a super-slick action adventure. It’s bursting with scenes of head-spinning excitement, expertly staged by Dark City director Alex Proyas. Marco Beltrami’s music is excellent, too, providing a pulse for the cybernetic mayhem. As for its heartbeat, that’s provided by Smith, reliable as ever and amusingly flip in outrageously fraught situations. “I’m sorry, are you being funny?” says the bemused Moynahan. “Apparently not,” replies the unflappable Smith. Similarly not funny: I, Robot was pretty much the last decent film Smith made. Sadly, same goes for Proyas.

Certificate: 12
Duration: 110min