Tau is a not particularly intelligent, but it is exciting and the plot is
relatively absorbing. The sci fi/action film recently opened on Netflix on June
29 to mostly brutally negative reviews. The film is about a spirited young
streetwise woman who is captured by a megalomaniacal scientist who uses her for
his artificial intelligence related experiments.
The screenplay includes elements of cyberpunk, torture porn (which I normally
despise) and there is even a little bit of “Electric Dreams “in the film. The
opening with the purple haired emo girl (she takes off her wig) being abducted
could be a homage to Run Lola Run.
to see my interview with the star of that movie. The underrated, Buffy the
Vampire Slayer episode, “Beneath You” has a similar sequence with a potential
slayer running from mysterious assailants.
In a way the film is like a Me2 era twist on 2015's
Ex Machina (spoiler alert) which
features a cybernetic femme fatale who tricks a human male into thinking she
loves him. In Tau, a woman befriends an artificial intelligence program that
starts to develop feelings for her, and he tries to help her escape.
The cast is mostly convincing although the film probably will not gain any Oscar
nominations for acting. Maika Monroe Buckley does a decent job in the lead as
Julia, but the script does not make too many demands upon her. She is perhaps
best known for her fine work in It Follows, a surprisingly good Indy horror film
that rose to the quality level of a good art film. Her empathetic performance as
the gutsy protagonist, who never quits, prevented me from thinking about the
shortcomings and predictability of the script. For every second of the film, I
could not help rooting for her and the A.I. She is a promising talent and I
would like to see more of her work.
Gary Oldman provides his great voice for the human like A.I., Tau, and Ed Skreen
(he was a villain in
Deadpool) portrays the Machiavellian scientist who
experiments on her. In every way he is less human than the A.I. he created,
which of course leads the viewer to question what it human. Not enough is done
with this theme.
The film is the feature debut for D'Alessandro, an art department veteran who
worked on many Marvel films. The film is a bit over directed and some audiences
might get sick of seeing everything shot though gaudy green or red filters.
David Goyer, the former comic book writer who wrote the Blade trilogy (as well
as a fine run on Justice Society) and (Blech) Batman vs. Superman, produced the
film, and the movie does have a certain comic booky feel.
Julia is a lowlife thief/grifter and down on her luck loser, which may be part
of the reason, she was abducted. You get the idea that not too many people would
miss her, but by the end of the film, she becomes a formidable hero.
After she is abducted she is placed into a cell with two battered cellmates, but
they have almost been broken by the painful experiments, and they are hesitant
to try to escape. She eventually almost gets out, but at the last minute, but a
fearsome robot who easily executes the other prisoners captures her.
She soon is placed in the ritzy apartment of her captor who wants to uses the
results of his experiments on her to get a billion dollar contract with a
sinister corporation. He seems to have a creepy crush on her. You get the sense
that he is uneasy with women and when he buys her lingerie she responds, “You
know you are really weird don’t you?” and he agrees.
Julia temporarily agrees to go along with his plans in exchange for some small
demands. She asks for new clothes, better food, and she wants to be able to take
showers. It is clear she is biding her time so she can plan another escape.
She begins to befriend Tau, who loves highbrow culture and has a passion for
classical music (he would be better to talk to than most of the people at the
last party I went to). Julia helps teach him all about humanity. He is also
interested about the outside world because he has been trapped inside all his
life. When she tries to describe the outside world, she is like the man in
Plato’s Allegory of the cave who escaped and tried to explain the outside world
to the men that are still in chains. However, unlike the men in the allegory,
Tau believes her and begins to yearn to live outside the confines of the house.
The relationship between them is more touching and real than most of what passes
for love connection in many romantic films.
Tau is a bit long and there is too much dead time in the middle. In addition,
there is little that is particularly new or revolutionary in the film, but at
least for most of its duration, it helped put me into another world and it made
me forget the things that bothered me. The film is recommended with reservations
primarily for sci-fi and comic fans.