Tau is a 2018 film directed by Federico D’Alessandro and written by Noga Landau. It is a near future science fiction film focussed on the field of artificial intelligence and robotics. As usual outside of the set up I’ll try to avoid any spoilers.
Maika Monroe plays Julia, a street-smart pickpocket who is kidnapped and used as an experimental subject by main protagonist Alex, played by Ed Skrein. The only other actor with a substantial role is Gary Oldman, who voices the AI that gives the film its name, Tau.
After a fast paced start that sets the scene nicely the rest of the film concerns the developing relationship between the three main actors and Julia’s attempts to escape her imprisonment. Much of the film is set in Alex’s house which is also his AI laboratory.
Skrein plays a tech-billionaire with aplomb and the kind of dry menace you could expect from a hands-off techie nerd with class A robotics at his disposal and an antisocial disorder. Even more fascinating is the developing relationship between Julia and Tau which addresses the possibilities and limitations of AI technology.
This is done with some aplomb and Noga Landau should be applauded for how they handle this difficult area – particularly as it’s their first credit in a major feature film and one of only a few in total. Both they and the director seem to have a handle on current and future technology and there are none of the usual cringe-worthy episodes that can spoil the plot for technophiles like me. No grainy CCTV is magically improved with the ‘enhance’ button, no wonder programs are created with half a screen of HTML and nothing is hacked into by someone typing a dubious command into a Linux terminal.
The house sets and the technology effects are great – I especially liked the threatening appearance of the house robot, Ares. The plot is driven along by the simple device of an approaching deadline which helps to increase the tension until you are really behind the sympathetically played Julia. The ending – of which I’ll speak nothing else of – is pretty excellent too.
So, a pretty great film, particularly if you’re into sci-fi and the kind of tech noted above. I believe it’s a made-for-Netflix exclusive so you’ll need to catch it on there.