There have been many films over the years featuring killer robots, androids and those with man-made intelligence both on the big screen and off, on television and so it is that Netflix decided to get in on it with one of their latest offerings called Tau. With this go round, it features an A.I. voiced by Gary Oldman, a killer program with a heart of gold that only wants to learn poetry and process the beauty of the world. Sadly, with an owner like Alex as played by Ed Skrein who has something else in mind and thanks to a deadline imposed on him by his company and a house guest/prisoner portrayed by Maika Monroe; Tau is torn between its duty and that of his budding personality.
If the movie feels like it has a ‘been there, done that’ vibe about it, that is because there are a lot of tropes in the film familiar to the genre, everything from Asimov’s I, Robot to Channel 4’s Humans. Despite that, it still manages to engage the viewer as it is well-acted and the A.I. has a very unique personality, not to mention the situation that those characters find themselves in being a trying one that brings out a very mixed bag of emotions. Tau is every bit a character as everyone else in the picture and it is not long before the audience is made to empathise with it. Just like everyone else, all Tau wants to do is live and when it comes down to it, when Tau learns what killing and murder is, it nearly drives itself mad. Suffice it to say, no matter how grisly the atrocities committed, one feels sorry for him and wants Tau to be as free as anyone else.
Monroe does a great job as the hapless prisoner, though not so much the damsel in distress because she is essentially fearless and determined to escape the situation she finds herself in. If anything, it is Skrein who is helpless, he simply fails to realise it. It all makes for a great role reversal, one not seen too often, especially in a film like this, but it works and was done well.
When it came to the special effects, something a movie like this is going to rely on at least fifty percent of the time, they were hit and miss. Sometimes they looked really good, but other times when Tau was mobile in his robotic form, it looked extremely cheap and broke the thread of believability for the viewer. If there was one thing that Netflix could have spent a few bucks on, it should have been making Tau as real as possible, making the monster look like the fearsome killing machine it was supposed to be.
All in all, there is little new to see in Tau, but even then, it still offers up enough to make for a good popcorn film – something to pass the time by in lieu of heavier fare.
3 out of 5