FiLM REViEW: Monsters of Man, 2020

This is a weird mish-mash of a movie. Certain aspects, such as the core idea of AI-enabled military robots, used for nefarious ends, are quite good (if not exactly unique nowadays). Others, well…

Six holidaying US do-gooder doctors get lost in the forests of the Golden Triangle, where they run the gauntlet of drug gangs and their jungle booby-traps. Unfortunately for them they wind up in a village where a rogue US/CIA military-tech op’ is just getting underway. They rapidly become accidental eyewitnesses the dirty ops guys are keen to eradicate.

The CIA and Cyborg ‘baddies’ air-drop four ultra ‘hi-grade’ military kill-bots into the forest, as a real world test of the hardware/software capabilities. One of the bots is damaged during deployment, losing a key part of its ‘brain’ or control unit. The other three butcher almost the entire village, where the docs have wound up. Fortunately for the latter, ex Navy SEAL ‘Mason’ is also there.

Mason gets them out. But they start haemorrhaging lives. The three fully functional kill-bots hunt down the survivors of the massacre, whilst the fourth goes on a bizarre journey of cyber self discovery. All through this a trio of tech-nerds, flown in to ‘mastermind’ what rapidly becomes an appalling debacle, is having a crisis of conscience, as they realise they’re not simply ‘training’, but doing a fully lethal ‘black op’, with (mostly) innocent civilians as the guinea pigs and collateral damage.

This is a very, very, very uneven affair. Certain aspects are quite good, even emotively powerful, or reasonably clever. Others, such as the typical and arbitrary ‘some get away some don’t’, and non-stop action vs long hiatus, are weaker. A lot of the issues may be consequences of the fact that the whole film is probably about 20-30 mins too long.

There are some brilliant and/or beautiful locations (Cambodia, I think?), quite a bit of no holds barred brutality, and an interesting if convoluted plot. Very patchy and uneven, but quite an enjoyable watch.

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