out of Five
Running time: 115
Fast-paced, action-packed, enjoyable sci-fi thriller – like Minority Report, but dumber. And with more robots.
I, Robot opens with Isaac Asimov’s famous “Three Laws” of robotics – the upshot of which is that robots can never harm humans – but Asimov fans should take note that the film itself is merely “suggested by” Asimov’s short stories and that as a result, it’s basically just a big dumb Saturday night action flick with robots in it. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.
Future Police Thriller
Will Smith plays Del “Spoon” Spooner, a Chicago cop in 2035, a future where domestic robots are as common as vacuum cleaners and the U.S. Robotics Corporation is about to unleash its latest model. When robot-hating Spoon is called to investigate the apparent suicide of the Corporation’s chief designer (James Cromwell), his natural mistrust of robots leads him to suspect a robotic hand may be behind the death.
Spoon soon finds his suspect, in the shape of a particularly thoughtful and articulate robot named Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk). However, with the aid of Dr Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), he soon discovers that his problems are a lot more serious than a back-talking, possibly homicidal robot…
Spooner is the kind of role that Will Smith can do in his sleep and he duly runs the action hero’s gamut of wisecracks, unfeasible stunts, breaking the rules, getting pulled off the case, etc. Smith being Smith, he’s as likeable as ever, though his character is actually meant to be rather downbeat and paranoid.
However, Bridget Moynahan makes a very bland lead and is exceptionally dull – the robot is actually more animated than she is: indeed, her character is so cold that you fully expect her to turn out to be a robot. Still, at least there’s decent support from both Tudyk and Bruce Greenwood, who turns in a reliably smarmy performance as the head of U.S. Robotics.
Impressively Designed But With Terrible Product Placement
Director Alex Proyas is no stranger to weird future-worlds, having directed the decidedly odd Dark City and his future version of Chicago is impressively designed, even if it does feature some appalling product placement (Spoon wears “vintage” 2004 sneakers for one thing).
The CGI effects, for the most part, are pretty good, although there’s the occasional lapse, such as during the big car chase sequence, where the effects let the scene down because none of the vehicles seem to have any real weight.
To sum up, I, Robot is an enjoyable thriller that zips along so fast that you won’t really have time to care how dumb it is in places. Not quite as good as Minority Report but worth seeing nonetheless.