With “The Machine,” newcomer Caity Lotz looks poised to join the ranks of ass-kicking sci-fi/action-movie babes like Milla Jovovich and…well, there really aren’t too many others, are there? Best known to most people for a recurring role on “Mad Men,” Lotz is also currently appearing as Black Canary on the CW’s “Arrow,” and if “The Machine,” which played the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, gets some traction, hopefully she’ll soon be added to that list.
“The Machine” comes from writer/director Caradog W. James, who borrows from “Blade Runner” (even the score echoes Vangelis) in creating a universe in which artificial intelligence gains consciousness. Lotz’ Ava joins the research operation of Vincent (Toby Stephens, who is the best Mr. Rochester), a robotics specialist who is trying to use his job with the British Government as a means of funding his development of the technology he thinks will save his ailing daughter. Ava becomes the template for The Machine, a hyper-intelligent next-generation robot that might just be more human than anyone suspects.
The two main actors were good—with a strong assist from veteran character actor Denis Lawson—and James does a good job in presenting a near-future world that’s believable. There are attempts to create human moments here, like when The Machine is born and Vincent attempts to teach her about human nature. But eventually it feels like the story is in a race to get us to the inevitable scene in which the robots rebel, and those scenes are more than worth the journey with Lotz delivering a knockout performance as The Machine. Here’s hoping she’ll use this and her role on “Arrow” to springboard her way into her own big-screen action franchise since the movie landscape is sorely missing female action heroes.
“The Machine” is available on iTunes VOD today and hits theaters on April 25.