I, Robot (2004) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Alex Proyas

Set in 2035 in a futuristic Chicago, robots are very much integrated into society doing everyday jobs working for humans. Governed by the ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ (created by the famous sci-fi author Isaac Astimov) that prevent them harming humans, they are accepted by the general populace except for one sceptic – Detective Del Spooner (played by the brilliantly talented Will Smith). He alone has his own personal reasons for this distrust that sets him apart and ultimately predetermines his destiny when he is called to the headquarters of US Robotics, the manufacturer that dominates this industry, by their ‘deceased’ chief scientist and co-founder Dr Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) who has just committed suicide – or not?

The chief executive of US Robotics, Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood), is running to a tight schedule, as within days a new generation of robots will be unleashed on society, the NS-5, which will triple the robot population in the US and make US Robotics position untouchable as a market leader. It’s here that a conspiracy begins to unfold when Spooner doubts the suicide verdict and while questioning Dr Lanning’s partner, robot psychologist Dr Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), discovers the existence of a unique intelligent robot called Sonny capable of emotion, free thought and humour.

As Detective Spooner is sent on a trail to discover the truth to Dr Lanning’s death and the realisation that Sonny is the key to unravelling the unfolding mystery, this sci-fi thriller blasts into action. The pace heats up inexorably as Spooner and Susan Calvin find themselves in a death defying race against time making them a target for annihilation… but from whom?

The pace and action never let up in I, ROBOT and director Alex Proyas skilfully keeps the film on course and applies the pressure with some edge of the seat stunts as the mystery deepens, while the situation becomes more untenable as the US precariously heads towards anarchy but only Spooner sees this until it’s too late. The CGI is exceptionally well integrated and there are lots of thought provoking touches that add that extra special feel to the movie like the futuristic Audi TT sports car that drives itself unless Spooner interferes and takes over manual control. These all help to immerse the viewer into this not too distant future world and what it might be like – until things start to go wrong and man’s complacent reliance on robots backfires.

The ensemble cast are all excellent from the cool, rational Susan Calvin who almost prefers robots to humans, played exceptionally well by Bridget Moynahan, to Will Smith who reigns supreme. The sheer energy that ignites his performance here is awesome and his legions of female fans won’t be disappointed with a shower scene!

I, ROBOT is a must-see, a thoroughly entertaining sci-fi actioner with wide appeal that will keep everyone glued to the screen!

6 out of 6 stars