EBONY REVIEW: John David Washington’s New Flick, ‘The Creator’ Is Sci-Fi with a Conscience

After watching M3gan’s body count rise, I’ve had this nagging anxiety about what would happen if artificial intelligence rose and retaliated against humankind. (I never say anything disparaging to my Google Mini, just in case.) The Creator, starring John David Washington, has us diving head first into that scenario as a war rages between the human race and AI in a not-so-distant year. But there are enough twists to make this sci-fi action flick/love story one that challenges our ideals of what it means to be sentient.

Mere decades from now, the U.S. has banned all AI beings since they set off a nuclear explosion that eviscerated Los Angeles. Ex-special forces agent Joshua (Washington) is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect who has created an advanced AI weapon with the power to end the war and the machinery our nation has built to rid us of these robotic demons. But Washington’s got problems of his own. He’s grieving the loss of his pregnant wife who’s been missing for the past five years.

A glimmer of hope has him joining a team of elite operatives to journey across enemy lines into New Hong Kong, where AI is still sanctioned and thriving, he discovers the world-ending AI weapon he’s been sent to destroy is in the form of a six-year-old child. Yeah, hard to pull the switch when innocent eyes are staring back at you and they’re the one connection that could lead you back to your lost love.

“The film explores how love can determine what you think is right or wrong, your reasons for wanting to be alive and whether you’re serving any purpose in life,” Washington shared in an interview before the actors’ strike, adding how the film also explores “the importance of empathy.” Joshua is forced to make split-lightening decisions based on his new enlightenment.

Cinematically, The Creator is astonishing to watch, from its gradient of lighting that sets off in grey tones at the film’s onset but bursts into technicolor at its climax. Then there are the incredible fight sequences that AI undoubtedly played its part in producing. Washington’s years of training for the football field come back into play as he effortlessly attacks his action sequences, the kind that left my heart pounding as I wondered how he’d get out of every bind. His bond with Madeleine Yuna Voyles, who stars as the young AI is so heartfelt on screen, no doubt influenced by his close-knit relationship with his dad, Denzel.

The only nagging point in The Creator is that a crucial turning point in the plot is tossed off as two characters chat with one another. As it was a game changer for me, it should have been a grander revelation.

The Creator is a full-on sci-fi adventure with astonishing action sequences that will thrill any genre fan. But the movie also heavily plays on our emotions it unfolds tear-jerking stories of its humans and AI beings, leaving us all questioning what we think about AI and its impact. And that makes it a perfect film for the rest of us.

The Creator opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, September 29.

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Updated: September 26, 2023 — 12:02 pm