'Archive' Spoiler-Free Review: Visually stunning sci-fi film that blends futuristic tech and existentialism
No spoilers for 'Archive'
If you're like us, then every once in a while, you wonder what Theo James might be doing these days. And the answer is usually something really cool. The 'Divergent' and 'Castlevania' star's latest project is a masterful work of science fiction, crafted by director Gavin Rothery in his feature directorial debut. 'Archive', released via VOD by Vertical Entertainment, checks off all the boxes for a sci-fi thriller and then some.
When it comes to the science fiction genre, it's far too easy to get caught up in the highly imaginative concepts and forget the underlying human condition that anchors all the stories we tell as a species. 'Archive', however, strikes the perfect balance between futuristic technology and primal human tendencies.
Theo James puts on a stellar performance as George Almore, the movie's protagonist, and so does Stacy Martin, who is the other lead actor in the film. Both of them are proven talents and they don't disappoint whatsoever. Martin does an especially amazing job, bringing real emotion to synthetic beings in a way that's realistic and heartbreaking. But what's really amazing about this movie is something much deeper than just the skill of the cast.
On the one hand, 'Archive' follows a very worn concept in sci-fi: a scientist working on advanced Artificial Intelligence who treats the laws of nature as more like guidelines. That's a trope that goes all the way back to Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', but what 'Archive' has done with the concept is truly thought-provoking.
Like so many great works of fiction, 'Archive' is a meditation on life and death. It deals with the concepts of grief and accepting loss, and delves into the potential consequences of not moving on. But don't for a minute think that this movie is purely cerebral. It is a visual delight and Rothery's skill as an artist has definitely come in handy here. Practically every moment in the movie's 109-minute run time has something that is aesthetically pleasing.
There's a strong cyberpunk vibe to the film, as there should be considering the plot, but it doesn't get lost in the spectacle and forget the plot. 'Archive' is as well-written as it is well-crafted and there's a powerful twist at the end that'll leave you feeling like you've been punched in the gut. In other words, this is one movie you do not want to miss.
'Archive' was released for video-on-demand on July 10.