This is a classic Asylum mockbuster. Their rules:
1. Find out when the big blockbuster sci-fi and action movies are going to be released
2. Think of a name which is close enough to remind everyone of that film, but not too close that you get sued (unless it’s a legend or public domain character)
3. Hire one or two B-list stars
4. Rip the plot off other, previously released, sci-fi and action movies
5. Make your film quickly enough to be released around the time of the blockbuster
6. Keep your fingers crossed that the blockbuster is a hit, and you can sweep up 0.01% of their profits
Michael Jai White is Hammond, a cop in 2037 Los Angeles. Large sections of the city are walled-off, apparently due to radioactive meltdowns, and the only people who go there are the unfortunate folk with radiation poisoning, criminals and cops. While Hammond and pals are in a bind, they call in backup and get this guy:
Of course, they become partners, and are sent into the forbidden zone, or whatever the hell it’s called, to rescue the Mayor’s daughter, who’s actually in a hospital bed in a coma but “inhabits” an android body. There’s police double-crossing, questions of LA real estate, a secret plan to take out every crime boss in the forbidden zone which is just a red herring, and (of course) major twists and turns.
While they’re after some of that sweet “Robocop” money, the thing this most resembles is an extended episode of TV show “Almost Human”. A human cop and his “wacky” android cop sidekick, in the future, try to save the day…there’s a taste of “Avatar” in there too, with people controlling, well, avatars. Throw in a bit of “Escape From New York”, then some of whatever movie it is where people can’t shoot for shit, and you’ve got yourself an Asylum feature.
Before I get on to whether the film was any good or not, I want to vent about a personal bugbear. Androids in films, almost without exception, make that annoying servo-motor sound whenever they walk, turn their heads or do pretty much anything. Firstly, movies, WE GET IT! We aren’t going to forget halfway through that the guy who can throw people through walls is more than human. Secondly, wouldn’t they have invented something silent by “the future”? Also, there are two androids in this film who don’t know they’re androids, and they can move without making an annoying noise constantly, so what’s up with that? Is it an affectation?
For a mockbuster, this film is alright. It’s good to see a film with a primarily black cast where it’s just not an issue – as well as Michael Jai White, Kadeem Hardison is the obviously-a-baddie cop, and Charles S Dutton is the Mayor (with a heavily accented Hispanic daughter). They’re steady hands, even if the rest of the acting isn’t up to much. Special effects are absolutely fine, they’ve found some suitably broken-up scenery, and it looks like it cost more than it probably did.
It’s just a bit pointless. Like I said, watch any two episodes of “Almost Human” and you’ll have a better time than with this film. The stakes are fairly low, the cheapness of the film shows through in the almost complete absence of supporting characters (and the police station is pretty much one room) and the Asylum format of knocking em out, never mind the quality tends to result in flatness like this. So, in other words, the perfect mockbuster. Very slightly entertaining and entirely forgettable.
Rating: thumbs down