Mackenzie Davis is quietly cornering the market when it comes to playing cyborgs or robotic characters and infusing them with humanity. With the ever-expanding role of technology in day to day life, it's not much of a surprise movies and TV shows continue to explore the anxieties that come with these advances. Westworld looked at the morals of creating lifelike robots who exist solely to be killed and abused by human tourists, or even the Alien prequels, where Michael Fassbender's android develops a god complex after being mistreated by humanity.
This topic has become more prevalent in recent years, which can be seen further in movies like Ghost In The Shell. Mackenzie Davis first came to audiences attention due to her lead role in TV series Halt And Catch Fire, which ran for four seasons on AMC. The show dealt with the emergence of personal computers and the internet. Technology would soon become a recurring theme in Davis' work, thanks to prominent roles in Black Mirror, Blade Runner 2049, and the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate.
"San Junipero" is considered one of the best episodes of Black Mirror - which is surprising, considering how upbeat it is compared to the rest of the series. Black Mirror looks at the dark side of technology but "San Junipero" focuses on the love story between Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and Kelly, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Cloverfield Paradox). While the episode initially appears to take place in 1987, a twist reveals most of it is set within a simulated reality for the deceased, though the living can visit.
"San Junipero" finds the elderly inhabitants transported back in time to their younger selves, with the episode shamelessly evoking nostalgia from the music through to costume choices. Rather than look at the dark side of living in a fantasy world, the episode looks at the upside. It allows both Yorkie and Kelly to be together without fear or shame, after both they've both lived hard lives. The episode ends with both ladies passing on and their consciousness' uploaded to a computer, allowing them to be together in a virtual afterlife.
On the flipside to "San Junipero," Blade Runner 2049 takes a darker view on the future of mankind and technology. In the Blade Runner universe, humanity has created a race of replicants, beings who are almost identical to mankind but have advanced speed and strength. Replicants are essentially slaves, and if they break from an assigned role they're retired, AKA killed. Mackenzie Davis plays Mariette in 2049, a replicant prostitute who comes into contact with K (Ryan Gosling), a Blade Runner.
Mariette's motives in Blade Runner 2049 are mysterious at first, though it's later revealed she's part of the replicant underground resistance. K is hunting for the child of Harrison Ford's Deckard; a part human, part replicant hybrid. This was previously thought impossible and replicants see this child as their messiah. The film is rife with questions about the nature of free will and choice, with K being manipulated throughout, from his superiors to the freedom movement. Even his memories belong to somebody else. It's only in his decision to rescue Deckard in the finale does he truly make his own independent choice.
Davis' Mariette puts a human face on the resistance because while their motives are sympathetic, even they are willing to resort to brutal tactics. Mackenzie Davis will continue the tech theme with Terminator: Dark Fate. While her character's exact background hasn't been confirmed, Davis' Grace is an "enhanced" human being out to protect new heroine Dani Ramos. Her character appears to be some kind of human/cyborg hybrid, which will no doubt lead to questions of which side is more dominant. While it's probably not an intentional career choice, Mackenzie Davis keeps cropping up in sci-fi projects that involving cyborgs, A.I. and the role of technology. Given the overall quality of this material and the humanity she brings to them, hopefully, this theme will continue.
- Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019