Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are the basis of many books, movies, and series. The principle is always the same: what would be the result if any or all of these laws were violated? Simulator is no exception, although the precepts are somewhat different and there is one more. Ryan Christopher Churchill’s screenplay therefore does not invent anything.
In April Mullen’s feature film (Wander), the Nexxera company has developed a new generation of androids that are virtually indistinguishable from a human. While the first models – terrifying, in our eyes – were personal assistants, the most recent ones have as their main function to replace missing loved ones. They manage to “simulate” the presence of the deceased by importing their memory and personality into their system.
Following a car accident, Faye (Jordana Brewster), who formed a – very wealthy – couple with Evan (Robbie Amell), acquires a Simulant to replace the latter. After a while, she realizes that her lover’s reply does not help her mourn. Normally, the robot should have been deactivated, but Casey (Simu Liu), a programmer, instead removes its precepts in order to allow it to develop its own consciousness and win Faye back. Unsurprisingly, Casey didn’t “release” Evan because he has a big heart.
Meanwhile, Kessler (Sam Worthington) of Artificial Intelligence Compliance Enforcement investigates another freed Simulant, Esme (Alicia Sanz). Dark, the policeman who seems inhabited by a hatred of robots softens in contact with it. Until…
In the final 20 minutes, the paths of all these characters finally cross, but it’s too late.
Despite the talent of the actors gathered, none of the three parallel stories is captivating enough to sustain our interest until the end, even if the film lasts barely more than 90 minutes. If only it was only because of his lack of action.
The generic dialogues punctuated with pseudotechnical vocabulary are deeply boring. The terribly serious tone fails to communicate the seriousness of the issues. The music makes us unhook so much its heaviness is exaggerated.
Although the action takes place in a snowy Hamilton, Ontario, barely futuristic – except for a few holograms -, it feels very far from what we are told. However, the constant evolution of artificial intelligence leaves no doubt that humanoid robots may exist one day. The Simulant ones just aren’t up to snuff.