Singularity is a 2017 sci-fi film about a near future where the world’s largest robotics company, introduces his most powerful invention designed to end all wars.
After John Cusack‘s impressive work in Spike Lee‘s Chi-Raq, it seemed the veteran actor was about to have a resurgence of sorts, allowing him to embrace his age and dramatic side to become one of his generation’s more significant contributors. To be sure, there is probably little he could do now that might tarnish his incredible body of early, influential films, yet since Chi-Raq, he’s floundered in a B-movie wasteland, from zombie knock-offs like Cell to this year’s Blood Money. Now comes Robert Kouba‘s Singularity, a flawed but ambitious adventure that sees him once more stuck in a low-budget film that can’t make the best use of his talents.
By 2020, the world is overrun by an army of militarized robots that had been designed to save the world but did just the opposite, at least for the humans. VA Industries CEO Elias van Dorne (Cusack) unleashes Kronos, a highly-advanced super-computer A.I. that is meant to end all conflicts and stabilize the Earth. Turns out though, that plan doesn’t include humans, and once online systemically sets about annihilating the population in a global assault that eradicates billions of people. The machine, having consumed Elias and given him a sort of corporeal immortal existence enlists the aid of his assistance (and brother) Damien (Carmen Argenziano) and spends the next ninety-seven years trying to take out the last of the people, searching for the now fabled last stronghold of humans called Aurora. To get there, he has a plan, and it centers on following a young woman named Calia (Jeannine Wacker), a fierce robot warrior who is trekking her way to the salvation of all mankind.
So, yes, you’re right to think what you’re thinking, that all of this sounds an awful lot like the premise of James Cameron‘s Terminator series, minus of course the titular cyborg. It actually fits more into the prologue of that franchise than the films themselves, delving into the breakdown and fallout as the humans fall before settling on Calia and her struggle. She eventually meets Andrew (Julian Schaffner), a young man who we are told all about but Calia is forced to figure out on her own. This then has the two of them hiking about the ruins of cities and towns as they make their way to the legendary utopia they assume is somewhere on the horizon.
Kouba, who wrote the film – which serves as his feature length debut – shows more promise in his direction than storytelling, the plot all too familiar and contrived even as it never really loses momentum. It’s loaded with exposition, reading, and narration, which only weakens the experience, as it strips away any real wonder the film possibly provokes. It sure does look good though, with some terrific CGI work and solid cinematography by Jesse Brunt and Sebastian Cepeda who deserve credit for giving the film a much larger sense of place than it really has. Unfortunately, the film falters with lackluster dialogue and flat performances, with barely any action. That’s not to say a film like this needs to be throwing fireballs and robot explosions at us to work, but it’s conversationally driven and suffers for it. It’s not helped by a tepid score that fails to push it forward.
Singularity works hard to be something that it’s not, attempting to weave in some social commentary before tapping into some Blade Runner territory in the second half. It’s all too been-there-done-that, and while it looks pretty, is disappointingly flat. Fans of the genre might find more than others, and Kouba certainly looks to have the chops to make a good film, so at least this should serve as a worthy testing ground.
Movie description: Singularity is a 2017 sci-fi film about a near future where the world's largest robotics company, introduces his most powerful invention designed to end all wars.
Director(s): Robert Kouba
Actor(s): Carmen Argenziano, John Cusack, Eileen Grubba