Simulant (2023)

Simulant (2023)

A pale imitation of other AI related films

5.2

Movie

Canada
English
Science Fiction, Thriller
2023
APRIL MULLEN
Alicia Sanz, Jordana Brewster, Robbie Amell
95 min

TLDR

Infuriating.

What it's about

Set in the future, artificial intelligence lives beside humans as “simulants”, often as imitations of people, dead or alive. As Evan finds out that he’s a simulant from his human wife Faye, he’s set on a journey with the mysterious Casey, who aims to free all AIs from their human masters.

The take

Mixing in the romantic drama of Black Mirror’s Be Right Back, and the existentialist thrill of the Blade Runner franchise, Simulant replicates certain scenes, but doesn’t have the emotional foundation that would help make us care about their journey. It’s not really clear what the film is rooting for. Most of the movie seems like it’s meant to side with freedom for all AIs, with Casey’s AI-revolution plot, and Evan’s motivation seems to do anything to be with his wife. However, with the film’s plot twist, it makes the earlier contemplative moments feel less poorly executed, and more like a joke at the expense of its viewers.

What stands out

The film’s infuriating plot twist is what sets it apart from other AI-related works. In other works, artificial intelligence is treated as a discussion about consciousness, freedom, and what it means to be human. They tend to be thought experiments exploring and questioning existing ethics towards it. In Simulant, the plot twist could have been created in order to shock viewers about the dangers of AI. Without spoiling too much, there’s an interesting thread here about freedom being the ultimate goal yet also the ultimate betrayal towards its creator, ala Adam and Eve. However, with this being set at the end, and without any scenes revealing their characters’ motivations, the film’s plot twist doesn’t feel like it’s meant to explore this theme, and feels more like a botched gotcha.

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