Friday, July 06, 2018

Tau (2018)

I think many of us have had a teacher or boss that valued quality over quantity.  It’s better to have one great idea than a lot of bad ones.  I’ve noticed the same thing about Netflix’s movie.  They seem to be putting out mediocre movies.  (Bright comes to mind.)  Tau is a movie along those same lines.  It has a decent concept that has potential, but the movie is undermined by a weak story.

When I read the premise, I imagined it would be someone trapped in their own head and forced to go through a series of trials to escape.  It turns out that I was very wrong.  Instead, it’s about a woman who is kidnapped and used as a test subject.  Her kidnapper is Alex, who we gather is working on some new form of AI.  Alex is basically hoping to cheat by scanning people’s brains to use as a template.  Julia is simply the latest such person.

We get to see very little of Alex.  Most of his time spent is spent coming home and going back out again.  (He also has to rebuild the lab that Julia destroyed.)  Instead, she spends most of the movie with Tau, the house’s AI.  Tau is programmed to obey only Alex, but Julia is able to find ways around this.  He has an interest in learning more about the outside world, which she can use as leverage.

The problem is that the story and characters have very little depth.  All we know of Julia’s life before the movie is that she stole stuff for money.  It’s just enough that we know no one will call the police on her.  We know that Alex is some sort of egotistical genius because of all the magazine covers on the wall.  Also, Julia’s not far off when she calls him a psychopath.  He likes to torture Tau and has no reservation about doing the same to Julia.

This is where the character development ends.  Julia makes several attempts to escape, but we learn very little about where she came from or how she grew up.  We have a device that can actually read her memories and all we see is scenes from earlier in the move.  Alex seems motivated only by coming out with the next great AI product.  He’s not conflicted about it.  It’s not from some outside pressure or anything.  He’s just the guy that Julia has to escape from.

It’s almost like someone found a template for a movie and deviated just enough to make it their own.  There’s no real reason to care about anyone.  When a character was hurt or threatened with death, I didn’t react with any sort of panic or empathy.  I would say that this could have been part of a series, or even a pilot.  It does generate some interest in the characters, but doesn’t really deliver on it.

IMDb page

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