He did it in “Men in Black”, and now Will Smith has done it again. Playing the cool guy in suit as we have seen him oh, so many times before, dragging in some of his magical “Prince of Bel Air”-humour, Smith pulls of yet another mind -blowing thriller. Along with the icy, humourless, robo –psych, Susan Calvin (Bridget Moyhanan), Smith saves the world from an endless disaster. I, Robot’s director, Alex Proyas (“The Crow”, “Dark City”) manages to bring your typical ghost –in –the –machine story to a wider perspective, fascinating both those who understand the meaning of great CGI, as well as those just looking for good old entertainment.
In Chicago 2035 the robophobic detective Del Spooner, Will Smith is requested to investigate the suicide of Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), the inventor of the revolutionary robots, the NS4. Indulging into the great world of Dr. Lanning, Smith experiences a close encounter with the robot-shrink Susan Calvin as well as Lanning’s personal robot, Sonny (Alan Tudyk). Through minor, yet obvious details, like a manual CD player playing the 70’s song “Rescue Me” and Converse Sneakers 2004, Smith appears as a conservative anti –robotics character. After having a bad –robot –experience, he is extremely suspisciuos to anything non-human. While lt. John Bergin (Chi McBride), with his natural “Boston Public” authority, is breathing down Spooner’s neck for assuming that a robot is to blame for Dr. Lannings death, Spooner finds himself in quite a few robo-messes. Though the three laws have been hotwired into the robots, a robotic evolusion is about to take place.
Alex Proyas’ ability to make us sympathise with the robot Sonny, is rather impressive. A fascinating character who so eagerly wants to understand human actions and emotions, “keeping secrets and having dreams”. In a very entertaining way, Sonny imitates human emotions by becoming fierce when questioned on Dr. Lanning’s death, as well as giving Spooner a one-eye-blink of trust, during a matter of life or death.
Will Smith’s natural humouristic skills, plays a huge part in I, Robot. After entering the head office of NS4, he manages to jokingliy ridicule every situation he finds himself in, voicing stuff like “Who wants a dead guy going bad in the lobby?” Combinding comedy with the performance of a bad-ass-high-stunt-on-motocycle-Spooner, Smith gives us an entertaining two hours of bang, poof and “Hello, there, sweet thang!”
Though the level of entertainment is high, the actual story is quite weak. How can all people in the world own their own robot? If the robots take over “the little guy’s jobs” how can normal people afford having a personal robot? Proyas gives out so many hints, that could have been followed up on as well. For example, we are introduced to a personal relationship between Calvin and Dr. Lanning, which is only mentioned once in the entire movie. Also the horrible story behind why Spooner has a bad feeling about the robots, is quite vague, and we never really get to understand the character of the vice-director of the NS4. He is presented as a bad guy, untill Spooner and Calvin suddenly find him murdered. (“Ups, I guess we were wrong about him”) There could have been made a lot more fuss around these themes, than what was done in I, Robot.
Nevertheless, I, Robot was the ultimate summer-flick of 2004, giving its audience a great entertaining experience. A balanced mixture of comedy and action, gave the people a movie we could’nt miss. And just like “men in Black” it will probably also be a film we won’t forget.