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REVIEW: Tau

June 29, 2018

Director: Federico D'Alessandro
Screenplay: Noga Landau
Starring: Maika Monroe, Ed Skrein, Gary Oldman
Runtime: 97 Minutes

 

★★☆☆☆

 

You can approach the concept of artificial intelligence in a variety of different lights. From the antagonistic of Terminator to the childlike optimism of Short Circuit or CHAPPiE, or use it as a jumping off point for deeper discussions regarding nature, sentience or even gender as seen in Ex Machina.

 

That last film seems to be the one that Tau is aping off in some ways, while in others playing coy with its intellectually starved learning machine Tau (voiced by Gary Oldman) as to whether or not it will become a villain due to the films stark neon red lighting pallet and moments of bloody violence. But to doesn’t choose to fit anything else in the in-between and offers up little more on a dramatic front.

 

What it ends up becoming is another excuse to place an imperilled female protagonist, Julia (Maika Monroe), at the mercy of her frighteningly dull captor Alex (Ed Skrein) as she’s imprisoned and tied up for an experiment to try and perfect his creation.

 

Never mind the needlessness of the whole conceit – such as why does he even need to kidnap people anyway other than to display him as unsympathetic? – or the other annoying contrivances that riddle the screenplay, but the drama is stiflingly sluggish and presented by actors who have been far better elsewhere. Especially Oldman, who sounds so disinterested but at least tries to pass off his whimsical interest in learning about the outside world with a hint of sarcasm to his stiff line readings.

 

Director Federico D'Alessandro’s debut is a boring but occasionally good-looking film to match his artistic backdrop, but it’s mostly dull and confused about what it wants to be. Alternating between an intense character-driven chamber piece without the characters to back it up, and a schlocky SyFy Channel B-movie with subpar visual effects and derivative designs.

 

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