THE CREATOR (2023) is an okay story wrapped in one hell of a stunning package.
It’s the future, and after a nuclear bomb destroys most of Los Angeles and AI gets blamed for it, America not only outlaws AI but becomes hostile to any country harboring it. This primarily puts America at odds with a country called New Asia, where AI androids and robots live side by side with humans and are valued as living things.
In the midst of this, a Special Forces operative (John David Washington) with divided loyalties is recruited to go back to New Asia to hunt down and kill the Creator, a software engineer responsible for the most advanced AI, and also a mysterious weapon that has the potential to end the war and possibly humanity.
Washington was in TENET, and this movie has the same gravitas-laden feel. While that worked tonally for TENET, which is primarily a plot-driven movie, it doesn’t work as well here, where we’re clearly intended to feel invested in the protagonist and his relationship with his wife and an android child. Oddly, however, the AI entities seem to have more humanity than the human characters.
Regarding the themes, there’s little regarding the ethical considerations for AI beyond whether an AI entity that is programmed to feel emotions and act human is actually a person and therefore has rights. AI is the likable underdog in this movie, though far more interesting about AI is the same quandary as with genetic engineering. If you can make a superior person–genetically enhanced, AI-supplemented, or entirely AI–doesn’t this make the rest of humanity a permanent underclass? The movie keeps it simple: The AI people act like people and therefore shouldn’t be persecuted.
Now to my favorite part, which was the visuals. Many of the scenes look like something Simon Stalenhag would come up with if he included Asia in his paintings. The CGI appears lived in, lifelike, and absolutely stunning. The action scenes are absolutely epic, titillating, and pack some fun surprises. America, the baddie, unleashes incredible machines to win the war.
It all wraps up in a last act that defies probability here and there and produces a victory that didn’t quite have me cheering.
Despite some criticisms of the how the story translated onto the screen, I really liked THE CREATOR. In the end, the story was okay, if a bit lifeless. The ride, however, is pretty thrilling, particularly in the action and gorgeous visuals.