Singularity (2017)

2017 | rated PG-13 | starring Julian Schaffner, Jeannine Wacker | directed by Robert Kouba | 1 hr 32 mins |

The high concept hook behind Singularity is as old as science fiction itself. When VA Industries introduced AI to the world and improved humanities quality of life, the technology quickly backfired and the robots were turned into massive weapons of war. When the VA CEO Elias Van Dorne (John Cusack, on the poster and in a cameo) invented Kronos, a program designed to eliminate the threat, it immediately identified humanity as the threat and wiped most of them out. The real danger was us all along, because, of course it was. It always is in movies.

Singularity is an unoriginal patchwork of other people’s ideas that comes together to be nothing more than those parts. 99 years after the robopocalypse, Andrew (Julian Schaffner) dodges Metal Gear Solid styled mechs in a world now light on people and green with nature. He meets Calia (Jeannine Wacker) the Resourceful Orphan Girl trope who laments about how humans were justly taken out by their machines. Wacker looks like Emelia Clarke, dresses like Katniss Everdeen and talks like Rod Serling. At this point Singularity switches entirely into a YA dystopian fantasy. It’s unclear if director Robert Kouba knows or cares about Ray Kurzweil or any of the ideas that the film’s title suggests.

It often takes a single big name star to attach to a small goofy movie like this in order to get it released. That’s all John Cusack is doing here. His appearances here more confuse the story than anything, apparently shot much later from studio mandated re-shoots to give Cusack more airtime. It’s slapped together pretty sloppily.  Kouba doesn’t know how to wedge him into this story, offering a simple fade-to-white at the beginning of the film and having him pop up 99 years later for reasons explained but not really. At worst Cusack’s involvement later in the film makes no sense and makes the movie feel choppy. At best, it doesn’t aid the story at all.

This movie is awful, cheesy, without an original idea in it’s head and blessed with SyFy channel special effects. It is also, like Extinction and Tau and almost every other AI film in the last 5 years, very pro-Artificial Intelligence. It has that defeatist cold war era, environmental fatalistic outlook on humans being bad and anything else – even killer war machines – being better. If The Demon Seed were made today Julie Cristie would run off in love with her AI house, if Terminator 2 were made today the T-1000 would discover he is more human than humans and if The Matrix were made today the movie would be rooting for the robot squids to destroy those bad people in Zion.

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