“The Creator” is a worthwhile addition the large stew of ‘Humans vs. Robots” movies of the past decades. But there is no ‘SkyNet’ here, and no rogue ‘Replicants’ coming back to Earth from the Off-World. The combat is fierce, and the struggle to survive is strong on both sides. The future world holds many uncertainties. And, if we are not careful, this might point us to a direction that is not the right way — but the way that we are currently heading…
In the near future, the humans have grown to love and appreciate all of the robots, the A.I. and the new ‘Simulants’ who are now ingrained into society. Except when a nuclear device goes off in Los Angeles and wipes out millions. The Western countries blamed it all on a rogue A.I. mission to take over the world. All the countries in Asia have banded together to become ‘New Asia’, a place that still supports and encourages the robots.
The Military have a lead on the main person who was responsible for the act. Nirmata (the Nepalese word for ‘creator’) has now designed a new weapon that could take out the Military forces. It could also destroy the huge space-based headquarters named ‘NOMAD’. This flying fortress of fear scans the Asian countryside ready to drop guided bombs to take out Nirmata’s laboratory.
Joshua (played by John David Washington) is a special operations fighter who has gone undercover. He is assigned to get the attentions of Maya (played by Gemma Chan). Maya is thought to be very close to the main target – Nirmata. They believe it is Maya’s father, Harun (played by Ken Watanabe), who is behind the scary weapon. Harum is a Simulant, who is simulation of the real life father of Maya.
Joshua is living with Maya in a small cove off the ocean in a quaint Asian country. Joshua’s cover is blown by a black-ops crew, led by his friend Shipley (played by Sturgill Simpson). Maya is pregnant with a child, and she flees – while Joshua tries to go after her. The eye in sky of the menacing NOMAD rains down fire on the people attempting to escape. Everyone in the boat is presumed dead.
Years later, Joshua is thrown back into the special operations game. He uses a prosthetic arm and leg, ever since that first detonation in LA that killed his parents. He is depressed over losing Maya, and finds that there is a new lead. Military officers come to see him. Officer Howell (played by Allison Janney) and General Andrews (played by Ralph Ineson) tell Joshua that Maya has been located.
Deep into the New Asia rice fields, there is a secret lab run by Nirmata. Inside that lab, the Officers have visual evidence of Maya working there. There will be a raid on that lab. First thing will be to grab that super-weapon Nirmata is working on. The second thing is to find Maya and bring her back.
Officer Howell leads the heavily-armed raid on the lab. Joshua has not been on a mission in quite some time. But he knows that there are times when these do not end well. Joshua gets into the lab with many other soldiers. There is one place with a massive door. And behind this door is a … small child? Yes, there is a Simulant that is a young girl. She says her name is Alfie (played by Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
Alfie tells Joshua that she would be able to lead him to Maya. Right now, that is more important to Joshua than anything else. If Alfie can guarantee some time to see Maya, then that would be enough for him. It would not matter that the local New Asian police are looking for him. It does not matter that the US Military is looking for him. He will take Alfie, the unassuming super-weapon, out across the Asian frontier to find his long lost love. After than, the Military can destroy Alfie – for all he cares.
But running and hiding with a cute Simulant who can control anything eletronic from afar is great burden. Joshua gets some help from his old friend Shipley, But that does not end well. Joshua and Alfie meet up with Harun, the Simulant is Maya’s father robot. They fight and try to escape, and they all get trapped by the US Military with the biggest RV you’ve ever seen. That old NOMD is back up in the sky, looking for Alfie and bombing any target it can find in New Asia.
Every new turn they take is fraught with danger. If they are captured by the US Military, Alfie will be destroyed. Joshua finds out what happened with Maya, and how she was involved with creating Alfie. He has personal stakes and will not let her be put into the robot scrap pile. But would there be a way for these two scrappy fighters to rise up and perhaps allow the Humans and Simulants live in peace?
“The Creator” is a very ‘creative’ variation on the well-trod path of Sci-Fi fiction regarding Man vs. Machine. It owns a lot to prior movies, such as “Blade Runner”, “I, Robot”, “The Terminator”, among many others. But this movie gets a fresh look at the basics and injects new life into many of the old tropes. It dares to take a modest-sized budget and create a presentation of major dimensions.
The story line takes the Big Picture and puts it to a personal scale, with the main character. John David Washington does a superb job as a worn-out soldier tired of fighting the losing battle. He has the emotional stakes of finding a long-lost love, and creating a new-found family of sorts. Madeleine Yuna Voyles plays the young Simulant who has the power end the war. Ken Watanabe is good, as always, in the role of wise protector.
Gareth Edwards, who along with Chris Weitz, has built a fleshed-out society of the near future and given the story a strong focus on doing what is right, never what is easy. Edwards, who is best know for “Godzilla” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has made an incredible glimpse of one potential future of our own society. He has honed-down the excess that comes in many of the current failed ‘blockbuster’ movies.
“The Creator” is a harrowing look at a war-stricken life where ‘Humans vs. Robots’ could be a potential future. That is, if people don’t learn to adapt to new situations in creative ways.
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Screenplay by: Gareth Edwards, Chris Weitz
Story by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, Allison Janney
Cinematography: Greig Fraser, Oren Soffer
Edited by: Hank Corwin, Joe Walker, Scott Morris
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Distributed by: 20th Century Studios
Release date: September 29, 2023
Length: 133 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, some bloody images and strong language
Genre: Science Fiction