Friday 31 May 2024

REVIEW: Atlas (2024 Film) - Starring Jennifer Lopez


Review by Jon Donnis

Directed by Brad Peyton and written by Leo Sardarian and Aron Eli Coleite, "Atlas" is a 2024 science fiction action film that transports viewers to a tumultuous future where the boundaries between humans and artificial intelligence are tested in the most extreme circumstances. Set in 2043, the film opens with a catastrophic war led by a humanoid AI terrorist named Harlan, resulting in the deaths of 3 million people. This sets the stage for a gripping narrative that jumps ahead 28 years, introducing us to Atlas Shepherd, a brilliant data analyst with a profound distrust of AI technology. Atlas, portrayed by Jennifer Lopez, is on a mission to capture Harlan, now a fugitive hiding in the Andromeda Galaxy.

The story picks up momentum as Atlas, determined and resourceful, insists on joining a military mission to apprehend Harlan. This mission quickly goes awry, leading to a series of high-stakes events that force Atlas to confront her deepest fears and prejudices about AI. After surviving an attack by Harlan's drones, Atlas must rely on an AI named Smith to navigate a hostile planet. Despite her initial reluctance, she forms an uneasy alliance with Smith, which evolves into a deeper, more meaningful partnership as the plot progresses. This dynamic between human and AI is one of the film's strong points, thoughtfully exploring the complexities and potential of such a relationship.

Brad Peyton's direction ensures that the story moves at a brisk pace, despite its 2 hour run time, with visually stunning action sequences and special effects that are both thrilling and immersive. The mech battles are particularly well-executed, showcasing the film's impressive visual design and technical prowess. The humour interspersed throughout the film adds a layer of entertainment, making the intense narrative more engaging and enjoyable.

Jennifer Lopez delivers a compelling performance as Atlas Shepherd, capturing the character's evolution from distrust to a reluctant yet profound collaboration with AI. Her journey is mirrored by the AI Smith, voiced by Gregory James Cohan, who becomes more than just a tool for survival but a character with depth and personality. This relationship is the emotional core of the film, providing a thoughtful commentary on the potential and risks of unchecked AI technology.

Supporting performances by Simu Liu as Harlan, Sterling K. Brown as Colonel Elias Banks, and the rest of the cast are solid, though the film's character development outside of Atlas and Smith is somewhat lacking. This lack of depth in supporting characters can make it challenging for viewers to fully invest in their fates, though their performances still add weight to the overall narrative.

One area where the film stumbles is in its pacing, which can feel sluggish at times, particularly during transitional scenes. Additionally, some of the dialogue veers into cheesy territory, which might detract from the film's impact for some viewers. Despite these flaws, "Atlas" manages to maintain a balance between action and introspection, making it a thought-provoking piece within the sci-fi genre.

"Atlas" may not be a groundbreaking addition to science fiction, but it offers a solid and entertaining experience, particularly for fans of action and AI-themed narratives. The film's exploration of AI's potential and its relationship with humanity is both timely and relevant, given current technological advancements. Jennifer Lopez's strong performance, combined with the film's spectacular visuals and engaging action sequences, makes "Atlas" a worthwhile watch. It stands out as a film that, while not perfect, effectively blends excitement with a deeper narrative, earning a respectable 7 out of 10. For a Saturday night on the sofa with Netflix, "Atlas" is a satisfying choice that provides just the right mix of entertainment and intrigue.

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