Archive: Film Review


2021 is starting off strong in the sci-fi genre thanks to Archive, starring Theo James and Stacy Martin.

Gavin Rothery‘s directorial debut is set in 2038 and follows scientist George Almore (James), who is working on his latest prototype of true human-equivalent artificial intelligence in a remote facility in a forest. It’s a tricky process because he has to hide his ultimate goal – being reunited with his dead wife Jules (Martin) – from the company he works for and his boss Simone (Rhona Mitra).

What I loved most about Archive is how we are drip-fed information slowly, so at the beginning, you have very little idea what is going on (I hadn’t watched the trailer or read the synopsis, so I was truly in the dark) and you can slowly fit the puzzle pieces together as the layers are peeled back gradually, mostly through flashbacks. The mystery gripped me from the start as I couldn’t wait to know what was going on and was really paying attention for clues and hints.

I also loved the world Rothery created. The setting reminded me of Ex Machina as the facility is set in a beautiful landscape in the middle of nowhere. For a long time, we have no idea where George is, why he is alone except for his robot prototypes, and what the mysterious black Archive box is all about. It was a fascinating setup.

I was impressed by how much empathy I had for J2 (voiced by Martin) – George’s second prototype – even though she is a bulky robot without a proper face. I really felt for her struggle with jealousy and building resentment as George casts her aside for J3 and she’s no longer useful or his favourite. I felt like that character (I know she’s just a robot) deserved a better ending.

This story had the potential to go in so many different directions and I couldn’t wait to see how it all came together. I had super high expectations for it and was ultimately let down by the ending. It was a shocker and I certainly didn’t see it coming – it confused me and I’m not entirely sure it made sense. I rewatched it (the luxury of a screening link) to make sure that I caught all the details. It’s mind-blowing but not the direction I would have gone for.

I don’t really go much on James as an actor but I thought he was well cast here, although the star of the show is Martin as she has a few different roles to play and she easily rises to the challenge. Although I wasn’t completely sold on the ending, I still think Archive is worth a watch for its ideas, imagination, and the world Rothery created.

Available for digital download from Monday 18th January

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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