The idea of robots gaining sentience isn’t exactly a new one on science fiction. In fact, it’s probably one of the most popular tropes there is, and it’s only growing more popular as AI technology becomes more sophisticated. Fox sci-fi series Almost Human started to tackle the concept before being canceled; the upcoming Westworld TV adaptation will have robots that are repeatedly resurrected as different characters; and Neill Blomkamp’s film Chappie is all about a robot with a heart and soul.
‘Robot on the run’ is a solid basic concept for an action thriller, and it just so happens to be the main premise of Vice, a new sci-fi movie from House of the Rising Sun director Brian A. Miller. The film stars Bruce Willis as the owner of a resort where humans can act out their darkest fantasies – rape, murder, robbery or otherwise – on a fleet of lifelike robots whose minds are wiped each time they ‘die’. Ambyr Childers (We Are What We Are) plays Kelly, a member of said robot race who has flashbacks to past atrocities and attempts to escape Willis’ system.
Based on the trailer, it looks like another popular sci-fi theme that crops up in Vice is whether or not acting out violent fantasies is wrong if no one is actually harmed by them. It’s something that has come up in discussions of whether or not violent movies and video games are inherently immoral, but it’s something of a moot point if the robots being attacked are effectively human and can feel pain.
It’s probably asking for a bit much for Vice to tackle that moral quandary in an intelligent and thought-provoking way, since the screenwriters’ other credits include the Red Dawn remake and Miller’s kidnapped-daughter action movie The Prince, which was basically a poor man’s Taken. Still, Vice might be worth watching as a popcorn movie, and for the irony of a violent fantasy tale in which the antagonist sells violent fantasies.
In addition to the trailer, Blood Disgusting has dug up a couple of new Vice posters that you can check out below.
Vice is in theaters on January 16th, 2015.