Making original IP is always an uphill battle…
While co-writer/director Gareth Edwards has crafted a spectacular piece of thought provoking and socially relevant science fiction, The Creator also borrows a little too much from way too many movies and stories that came before it.
Amidst a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, Joshua (John David Washington), a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan), is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war… and mankind itself. Joshua and his team of elite operative’s journey across enemy lines, into the dark heart of AI-occupied territory… only to discover the world-ending weapon he’s been instructed to destroy is an AI in the form of a young child.
There’s no doubt that The Creator is a rarity in this modern day and age as it is a thoughtful, big budget affair that very clearly isn’t angling for a sequel with a very good leading man performance. That being said though, as audiences have been so starved for something with scale that is at least attempting to be original, it’s far too easy forget that much of the ideas of The Creator have been born to the screen before in a multitude of iterations.
Edwards is no stranger to delving into some grandiose world building and everything that we see here in The Creator certainly lives up to the pedigree that we’ve come to expect given his previous body of work, but there’s something about this film that just feels like the “Greatest Hits” of thoughtful science fiction. Rattling through a ton of ideas and thoughts on the advancement of technology and it’s pros and cons which is obviously at the forefront of many of our minds while mashing it up with several philosophical, sociological and even religious ideals as it all unfolds allows us as an audience to engage on a level that goes beyond the spectacle that has been created, but there’s just one genuine problem.
It’s a heady, thought provoking piece of science fiction for people who have simply never experienced a heady thought provoking piece of science fiction. The Creator borrows from more places then I care to count and really doesn’t bring much to the table that could really be considered new. Thankfully it all gets saved thanks to some genuinely solid performances.
John David Washington has fully morphed into his dad Denzel because he quite frankly has the ability to elevate anything that he’s in.
As the tortured soul that is Joshua, navigating the morality of what he’s done, what he’s going to do and what it’s ultimately cost him makes for a fascinating soul searching performance that is hard to look away from. The likes of Gemma Chan, Alison Janney, Ken Watanabe and Sturgill Simpson (of all people?) deliver fine work in support but it’s the dynamic between Washington and Madeleine Yuna Voyles (in her very first time on screen) that really elevate this material.
Between these two, we see a broken man holding out for hope that was previously beyond anything that he could have imagined. It’s the unequivocal heart of the movie and ultimately the point of it all because while we can debate and discuss so much about the collision of humanity and technology and the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” of it all, there are so many variables at play at any given moment that there’s never going to be a clear cut way to land on the issue. The Creator makes space for the human spirit and the understanding that’s it’s condition is something that is always going to need room to evolve, because being able to grasp one’s humanity isn’t something that is exclusive to being human.