I, Robot


Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by:Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, Chi McBride
Released: July 22, 2004
Grade: B-

To each their own, but I am tired of actor Will Smith.  The guy has talented which was evident way back in 1993 when he gave the best performance of his career in Six Degrees Of Separation.  Now, Will Smith has become his own stereotype.  Each new character he plays has the same personality – that of a laid-back yet righteous individual who has a broad range of zingy one-liners.  To refresh your memories, think back to Bad Boys, Bad Boys 2, Men In Black, Men In Black 2, Wild Wild West, Enemy Of The State, Independence Day

I, Robot begins with a murder.  Police detective Del Spooner (Smith) is asked to investigate the apparent suicide of friend Dr. Alfred Lanning (Cromwell).  Lanning was the leader in robotic science and has ensured that almost every American household now has a robot to serve them in their home.  He also developed the three central laws of robotics – a robot cannot injury another human, a robot must obey another human and a robot must protect its own existence.

Spooner has always been sceptical of robots and thinks Lanning’s death was no accident.  In Lanning’s room at the time of his death was a rather unique robot going by the name of Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk).  Sonny is now Spooner’s lead suspect but police chief John Bergin (McBride) wants nothing to do with this theory since it completely contradicts the three laws.

Following through with his investigation regardless, Spooner finds he is being hindered by the head of Lanning’s robotics company, Lawrence Robertson (Greenwood).  Something is being covered up with the help of new friend Susan Calvin (Moynahan), Spooner’s prepared to put his life on the line to solve the riddle.

Of course, Spooner’s life is never really on the line.  He extricates himself from one perilous situation after the other and you don’t have to be a mindreader to know he’s going to come through unscathed.  What could have been an interesting look at the power of robots turns into a cheap action adventure with a silly finale.  2001: A Space Odyssey this ain’t.

In the director’s chair is Egyptian born Alex Proyas who directed The Crow and another personal favourite of mine, Dark City.  He’s an exceptionally talented director but may have succumbed to conservatism of Hollywood here.  It’s certainly not as adventurous as his previous works.

There’s a scene in which Robertson talks to Spooner following which Spooner sneezes and utters the line “sorry, I’m allergic to bullshit”.  Well sorry Will Smith, but I am too and I, Robot left me sneezing well after leaving the theatre.