First of al, I'd like to start as other reviewers have that are leaving positive ratings; if your not looking to think, or want to digest an easy to handle sci-fi action flick, then this movie is not for you, or not for you at that time.
If you like critical thinking, questions surrounding borderline ethical choices, a visceral slow-burn sci-fi with a meaningful and thought provoking message that contains pleasing visuals (so much attention to details) and a well placed soundtrack then look no further.
Yes, this movie is designed to make you think and wonder if humanity would be better off starting over with a "hard reboot." Man creates AI. AI surpasses man in every way, literally becomes "the creator and the destroyer," and attempts to reboot mankind by starting over from scratch. The idea itself is not new to the genre, but the story, characters, acting and dialog are done extremely well. This movie sucks you in and keeps you vested until the very end, and dare I say wanting more (which is a good thing). It is delivered in a way not many others have accomplished before. Thought provoking on par with Kubrick, Nolan, and the directors that gave you Encino Man.
It has been mentioned far too many times in other reviews that there are plot holes that are left open, opportunities missed, and sometimes simple mistakes overlooked. I say that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that common sense isn't always so common. From memory of watching the movies just two hours ago, I can only think of 2, maybe 3 instances where the information is left too ambiguous and we have to assume for ourselves. I believe everything else is explained. Let me make some points, and hopefully get those that came here for answers, to get their creative thinking juices flowing. -----------------------------------------
If you're still with me then I am going to assume that you have watched the movie. Some of these will be short, but if you have watched you will know what I mean. I will try my best to stay in chronological order of the movie and point out some of the less obvious stuff (some of this has been covered in other reviews, some not as of yet).
--Everything was planned. From the childhood training, surgical training, finding out the truth about the bullet pulled from the woman, how the woman was shot by "other droids", the food given to the woman in the hospital bed ("comfort food".... not healthy. We're talking mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, okay...some peas), etc.All meticulously planned by Mother. Time has no meaning when you don't age.
--Of course the hazmat suit was a plant, it was intentionally left there.
--Allowing daughter to open the door for a human who was injured, prior to daughter knowing that there was no virus; thus sacrificing herself and her safety to help others in need. Test, passed. Refer back to the ethical questions during the doctor test.
--The surgery is a final test on how well daughter can perform as a doctor. Daughter passed.
--lying about the virus and when and how she finds out about the virus, set-up for test...
...telling daughter she lied for the greater good (about the virus) and they way that she found out, test. Mother wanted to know how she would process that information and if she would make the correct ethical choice to help those in need; using logic,reasoning, empathy AND compassion above impulsive choices to just close the door and walk away. Passed.
--The mines and the talk about the mines. I believe this is one of only a few issues that are ambiguous and may have been slightly overlooked...The mines... 2 theories. a) If you watch again, I believe that there were more embryos missing than just 3. Mother planted the mine as a social experiment, leading ax01 to them.... a social group experiment for a group setting, and how they would react if a newcomer showed up and what they would do to survive, or b) the mines never happened. Made up memories due to ptsd, extreme psychological distress and extreme isolation. Woman was cray cray after being out on her own and "hunted" for years.... bringing us to: ax01 was never "let go" or escaped. She was allowed to leave so mother could record what she would do, and this was her (Ax01) test... failed.
-- Letting daughter leave, after seeing and finding out that she (ax03) has been "aborted". Also a test; referring back to her lesson about making the correct choice in the situation where daughter is the doctor and healthy, but is the only one who has compatible organs for the other 5 humans.... would she sacrifice herself for the survival of the others? Yes, letting daughter believe she would be killed if she came back (or stayed) was planted. The test was to see if she would sacrifice herself for the greater good of saving the others (brother and embryos) at the cost of her own life. She came back thus passing that test.
---- I'll admit... woman putting a knife to daughter's throat could not have been planned; i think this is one of those situations where we are left to rationalize that mother had thought of this scenario, and deduced that if she let them both go unharmed that woman would not intentionally harm daughter.
-- For Ax01? Entire life up until the end was a test. The woman may have failed to be the next mother, but how would she fair out in the world on her own? How would she react to mother, whom when (re)introduced to woman showed nothing but compassion... but was subjected to (perceived) violent AI for a long period of time? Woman was given the chance to not only survive but thrive in the bunker. Test failed (by Ax01). Her lasting hatred and unwillingness to change led to her ultimate demise. With daughter passing the tests and ax01 failing her last test, the experiment was concluded. As mother said, "it's as if you have been able to survive alone for so long for a reason, as if someone had a higher purpose for you." Well that purpose has been fulfilled now that ax01 has proven that she overwhelmingly failed.
--The figures drawn by ax01? Drawings of religious figures, more than likely from a religious book planted by mother (ambiguous again, more than likely Catholic Christian book). What would ax01 do if she found religion, would she hate AI even more and buy in religious ideologies? And the drawings names? Simon (saint)... can't remember other names right now but they were saints as well; the names of these saints come from a religion and were based from a nurturing god, not a wrathful god.
--Leaving the droid hand out? Test. Will daughter do what is necessary to find the truth, given more than one option? When posed with an ethical grey area, would she bend the rules, choose the lesser of two evils (use hand and break in, or blindly follow claims from an external source with no factual evidence?). Test for: "given the situation, which option is more ethical?" Finding the truth was the correct answer.
--Mother letting daughter shoot her? Closure, but with a simple reminder letting her know that she will always be around ( in a super nice "if you need me you know where...." kinda way. Plus, daughter has no idea that mother has, and can record everything. Mothers bunker shell doesn't matter what-so ever but psychologically provides closure for daughter, letting her think that mother is on the " outside" no longer interfering.
-- The last test is to see how she will raise the embryos with all of her life training and given the fact that she knows mother (assumed so, this was never given how the race actually became extinct) killed the race and why she did, but raised her to be the second coming and a fully devoted mother, how will she manage with this knowledge? With acceptance and willingness, or with revenge and hatred? Remember, mother will always be there, watching and waiting. Test - not yet completed.
--Logic, reason, compassion, ethics and morality (the greater good), deduction, ability to make clear choices under extreme stress. This whole movie from the time we arrive at her current age was the final test. Technically daughter is still taking the final "test".
Bonus food for thought:
-- Ax01 life experiences? Wrathful god. AX03? Nurturing god, which works best for the survival of the human race? Nurturing - passed by mother; remember she said that AX03 and this "test" was as much as a test of her abilities as it was for daughter.
--I'll admit ax02's demise is a bit ambiguous, but I find it very hard to believe that ax02 was killed for not passing some tests and furthermore, I believe that this director (and movie) are far too intelligent to miss an oversight / plot hole as large as the adult human jawbone left in the incinerator. I am willing to venture that the bone was planted like everything else. You really think of all the bones in a human body, the jaw bone would not be destroyed AND somehow fall behind the incinerator table? Ambiguous and highly doubtful, but possible.
-- One of the only other things I think we are left to guess is that the fine art that mother had ad01 focus on was drawing / artist... daughter was dancer. Both forms of art but in different expressions ushering different feelings and emotions.
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