Automation (2019) Movie Review

Director: Garo Setian

Writer: Rolfe Kanefsky, Matthew L Schaffer, Garo Setian (Screenplay)

Starring: Elissa Dowling, Sadie Katz, Parry Shen, Graham Skipper, Sarah French, Jeff Rector, Anahit Setian, Marv Blauvelt

Plot: A workplace robot, AUTO, transforms into a killing machine when he discovers he will be replaced by a more efficient model. AUTO fears being terminated and will stop at nothing to prevent his own destruction. The human employees must band together to stop him before it’s too late. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: The Office Terminator

Story: Automation starts with a business using the AUTO robot, which has decreased the costs of staff, while including upping efficiency and now Susan (Katz) is arranging with Bill (Rector) into replacing all of the staff with the new line of models improved from the AUTO one they already have.

While AUTO has made friends around the warehouse with Jenny (Dowling) an aspiring singer seeing the good in him, even if AUTO is suffering from nightmares of murdering the employees. Alan (Shen) is recruited to bring in the new robots in and like the human employees, AUTO gets reacts badly to being replaced, causing AUTO to get dangerously destructive.

Thoughts on Automation

Characters – AUTO is the robot that has help improve the company, he has befriended Jenny and gets on with most of the employees around him, even if he has caused the people to lose their jobs. He learns he is getting replaced and deactivated wanting to stop this, his previous mindset has come out, showing a deadlier side. Jenny is a freelancer that has been working for the company for years, she is a singer on the side dreaming of making it big and has created a friendship with AUTO unlike anybody else in the office, she becomes the person he most wants to protect. Susan is one of the managers that wants to bring in the robot employees, she will do what will make the most money for her and is happy to turn on the loyal employees.

PerformancesElissa Dowling in the leading role brings us an ambitious likeable character that could be any of the dreamers out there. Sadie Katz brings the cutthroat boss to life, showing she doesn’t feel for anybody through the film. Parry Shen has been in sci-fi horror for a while now, if you have seen him before you know you will get a fun character from his performance.

StoryThe story follows a greedy business that is looking to replace its employees with robots after a successful trial with an early model, but when the model learns it is getting replaced, it is resorts back to its original programming looking to try and save its job, by any means necessary. The story is putting a firm focus on the idea of workers getting replaced by technology and how they are getting upset, but the spin comes from how the technology might react to finding themselves getting replaced. It poses plenty of questions about whether technology is needed, despite turning into a bit a slasher styled sci-fi where the human employees need to avoid the destructive nature of the robot.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi side of the film does take us into the near future where we get to see how technology is being used in everyday life, and how they AUTO robot might not be functioning correctly.

SettingsThe film is set in a city that has continued to grow with technology with most of the action within the warehouse location that contains the action unfolding.

Scene of the Movie – Present.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The pursuit does seem to go on longer than it needs to.

Final Thoughts This is a sci-fi movie that does ask a big question about employment in the future and shows that not only the humans getting upset, but the robots that could get upgraded and replaced too, it does turn into a fun slasher chase film, which does work well, even if it is slightly repetitive.

Overall: Sci-Fi 101

The Good Liar (2019) Movie Review

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Jeffrey Hatcher (Screenplay) Nicholas Searle (Novel)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis Jones, Laurie Davidson

Plot: Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.

Tagline – Read between the lies

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tense Thriller

Story: The Good Liar starts as we meet Roy Courtnay (McKellen) a con man that has mark out his latest target, a widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) who he gets to romance getting close before presenting his plan with his partner Vincent (Carter).

Betty is happy to welcome Roy into her life despite her grandson Stephen (Tovey) not being as welcoming, only for this job to become one that will finally put Roy against his toughest match.

Thoughts on The Good Liar

Characters – Betty is a widow teacher that has always been smart with her money, with her only remaining relative being a grandson that always makes sure she is safe, she is looking for companionship with Roy and wants to remain her own confident self while making decisions with her money. Roy is a conman that is always working on his latest scheme to steal people’s money, he targets wealthy widows with Betty being the latest target, he always presents himself as a kind gentleman and even with the deals he is doing, he does have a violent side to him which he only shows when he needs to, making him a very dangerous man. Stephen is the grandson of Betty, he is always wanting to make sure she is safe and not being taken advantage of, not taking to fondly to Roy. Vincent is the partner of Roy, he is there for any final deal playing the person that will broker the deals, he does try to play into the human side of Roy too.

PerformancesHelen Mirren and Ian McKellen are absolutely brilliant together, seeing the two legends dominate the screen through the film. Russell Tovey and Jim Carter do well through the film to try and keep up with the legends too.

StoryThe story here follows a veteran conman that is still working on his cons with his latest target being a widow, worth millions, only this time he is meeting his match. This is a con man story that shows how one man has turned it into an art never fearing the job will go wrong, but Betty isn’t going to be an easy target. The big problem with this story comes from the fact you know this needs to have a twist and you are just waiting to see if you can figure it out before it is revealed, luckily it is a wonderful twist which can make the story revisited to pick up on the little clues being left through the film. It might not break the wheel with how everything unfolds because it is one where he learn and want Roy to get what he deserves through the film.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film plays into the conman mindset being explored through the film, we are kept guessing, while we don’t need to have too many intense scenes.

SettingsThe film uses the locations to the advantages, with busy life of London, which Roy enjoys, to the quiet life which always makes him uncomfortable.

Scene of the Movie – Underground meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – You are left waiting for the twist to happen.

Final Thoughts This is one of the thrillers that can be enjoyed, it is smart, slick and has two legends of the industry shining through the film.

Overall: Entertaining Thriller.

Knives Out (2019) Movie Review

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson (Screenplay)

Starring: Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Edi Patterson, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford, Christopher Plummer, LaKeith Stanfield

Plot: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Tagline – Everyone has a motive. No one has a clue.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Pure Fun

Story: Knives Out starts with the apparent suicide of Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) on his 85th birthday, the family Linda (Curtis), Walt (Shannon), Richard (Johnson), Joni (Collette) Meg (Langford), Jacob (Martell) and Ransom (Evans) were all in attendance along with Harlan’s nurse Marta (Armas).

Lieutenant Elliott (Stanfield) lets private investigator Benoit Blanc (Craig) look at the events of the night after he gets an anonymous request to investigate the death believing it was murder, with the whole family have cause to potentially murder.

Thoughts on Knives Out

Characters – Benoit Blanc is a private investigator that has a connection to the family and has been given an anonymous letter to investigate the death, he has his way which unlike the normal police will push the family for the truth, knowing most are lying when they talk to him. Marta Cabrera is the nurse to Harlan, she has the closest relationship to him, knowing most of the family secrets, while just working to make sure her family is secure. Harlan is the self-made millionaire author that has started to get disappointed by the behaviour of his own children. Linda is the eldest daughter who has her own real estate business that she is proud of her work, believing she has done better than the other siblings. Walt is the youngest son who runs the publication of the books, which has always seen him try to push his father into selling the rights to entertainment sources. Richard is the husband to Linda that has been caught by Harlan being forced into telling the truth or being exposed. Joni is the daughter in the law of the deceased son that is an influencer and has been getting an allowance since her husband’s death. Ransom is the black sheep of the family, son of Linda and Richard, he has always lived the life of luxury never having to work on anything himself. Meg is the daughter of Joni that is the closest of any of the younger family members to Marta, she has seen herself be put through school but Harlan. LT Elliott is leading the investigation to the death, he is happy to put it down as suicide, but will let Benoit lead his own investigate.

PerformancesThe performances here are a pure joy, Daniel Craig gives us a career best, Ana De Armas continues to rise up the Hollywood name list, proving herself with a sweet innocent figure, Chris Evans brings to light a character complete against the type we are used to seeing form him. Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Toni Collette are wonderful too showing they can become anybody like we know from them. Everybody in this film is wonderful to watch.

StoryThe story here follows a private investigator who decides to investigate an apparent suicide where he will dig up the family secrets to learn there might have been foul play. This story is a who-dun-it where everybody could be a suspect as nobody wants to tell the truth and everybody is hiding the truth too. There is a unique way of telling the story that will surprise you and turn the usual flow on its head, almost pointing out just how predictable certain TV shows involving a murder are. We do have plenty to unpack through the story, though there is a slight drag through the middle of the film.

Comedy/Crime/MysteryThe comedy comes from the colourful characters we get to meet and their actions, while the crime mystery mix together to keep us guessing to the complete truth of what happened, we get plenty of references to other crime stories too.

SettingsThe film is mostly set on the grounds of the death, we have the luxury mansion, when we stay in this location everything does feel like ‘Clue’ but whether we leave it does take a little bit away from the quirky style.

Scene of the Movie – Ambulance arrives.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We never learn where Marta is from, with the on running joke she is South American, each character claims she is from a different country.

Final Thoughts This is a quirky joyful comedy that leaves you guessing to the truth with performances that shine throughout the film.

Overall: Entertaining Mystery.