TAU follows a young woman who is captured by a mysterious genius who is dangerously committed to his next project for his company. Imprisoned within the walls of his facility, she is subject to his ruthless tests and kept in check by his AI, TAU, and its vicious robot. Can she find a way out before she becomes just another deceased lab rat?
A Netflix original, TAU feels like watching a feature-length version of an Oats Studios short. It's low-budget, violent scifi that is pseudo-dystopian under the guise of utopian. It could easily be an episode of Black Mirror, or even a recognizable prequel/sequel to an existing episode. It's like Kill Command, Captivity, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a tinge of Ex Machina rolled into a tight budget. But with all its similarities and nostalgia, does it holds its own?
My initial conclusion is yes, amidst a feud between its flaws and strengths. It's by no means perfect or solely original, but the plot is interesting enough with decent acting and effects to retain my attention.
Because some of the key developments of the film don't happen until about midway through, I find it on the verge to discuss some details here. But the natural progression of the character dynamics leads us down familiar territory, but territory I didn't mind exploring again with a killer robot and mad scientist in the midst.
I will admit that for the most part, the film felt like an amalgamation of every AI/robot movie ever made. It recycles tons of elements in the human/AI dynamic and repeats similar visuals with minor tweaks. I can't particularly pinpoint a moment of originality, to be honest, but I found myself attached nonetheless.
The exploration of AI is becoming more and more interesting as it grows ever-closer to reality. This particular film covers a spectrum of the concept in Ex Machina, with the greatest hurdle being emotional spontaneity replication for the purpose of creating life-like AI at the expense of doomsday scenarios. And the route this film takes does feel unique in its dark approach to the problem.
The character progression is strong enough that I am interested in the characters. I have feelings towards their demise, whether good or bad. And in the end that can be enough to retain attention. The beginning is cookie-cutter in many ways, but the film evolves into its own indie scifi flick as things progress. It culminates into a predictable, but satisfying ending that made me glad to have watched it by the time the tech-y credits rolled.