I spent half an hour this morning writing a post about this fascinating film, and the internet ate my post. Ugh. So anyway, you can find the basic plot on Wikipedia.
Here are my condensed thoughts. Warning! Spoilers!
Netflix has this as a ‘G’ it is NOT a G or PG, it has some really brutal, bloody scenes.
Now, I know I keep saying I’m not a feminist, but I saw this from a totally feminist perspective and that’s one of the things that made it so fascinating.
It seems to me that Machine and the Cyborgs could be seen to represent a ‘new world, and perhaps the female world whereas everyone else represents the ‘old world’ of patriarchy.
One of the scenes that I couldn’t understand to begin with is Suri killing a guard in a horrible scene where he is dowsed in petrol and set alight. But after re-watching a couple of times, I noticed that Suri overhears him say that she is planning a revolution.
Suri is one of the brain-damaged former soldiers with an implant but she seems to have freedom and autonomy as the assistant to Thomson, although it is a limited freedom.
The main male character is Vincent McCarthy, and it’s unclear until later on whether he is good or bad. He is clearly tolerating what he must know to be a brutal, criminal system, for the sake of his brain-damaged daughter.
The main female character Ava is murdered, as was McCarthy’s previous assistant, so you have two ‘girlfriend in the fridge’ incidents right there to begin with.
Then a cyborg robot is made using Ava’s computer ‘brain’, and Ava’s form, despite McCarthy promising Ava he wouldn’t use her face in that way.
The implant has the side-effect of taking away the power of speech but Machine and the Cyborgs share a secret, machine language so they can communicate -and plan the revolution -secretly.
Machine’s female form is shown off when she dances, but Thomson has her fighting for him, and twice calls her an “angel of death”.
Thomson forces Machine to kill by manipulating her emotions, and calls himself her ‘master’. It was also Thomson who had arranged Ava’s murder. He is clearly without empathy and seems to be the embodiment of patriarchy.
Machine passes the Turing test, proving herself to be ‘alive’, but Thomson insists that cyborg soldiers with consciousness is too dangerous and blackmails Vincent into doing surgery to remove Machine’s consciousness.
During the procedure, Machine promises she will be a “good girl”. She also promises McCarthy that she can be less intelligent, less human, she can be what they want her to be. She also says that she loves McCarthy, but he doesn’t hear her.
The only males who survive the revolution are the ‘good guys’, McCarthy, (and the male cyborgs). At some point, McCarthy has to pick sides. He makes his choice by pretending to have removed her consciousness.
When the machines overthrow the establishment, Thomson disables as many of the cyborgs implants to try to stop the revolution, but Suri locks him out. Thomson shoots Suri but she survives.
Later, Ava, although she doesn’t kill Thomson outright, makes him “dead inside, like you tried to make me dead inside.”
At the end of the film, Vincent is talking to his daughter, whose brain or life essence he has saved in digital form, but she doesn’t want him, she wants her ‘Mother’ (Machine).
The taking away of the power of speech, the Naming of Ava’s robot as Machine, using her face and body form against her will, the fact that only the men have surnames…everything in this film seems significant.
Anyway, hopefully somebody with more knowledge can take this further. I would really like to read a proper feminist analysis of this film.
I’d give it maybe 4 1/2 stars as I didn’t like the blood and brutality, but I thought it was a great film, with really interesting themes.