Review of 'Tau'

tau.jpg A street-smart drifter Julia (Maika Monroe) is kidnapped by artificial intelligence expert and entrepreneur Alex (Ed Skrein) as part of an experiment. Breaking free from her cell in the basement she finds herself captive in an automated house operated by the AI entity “TAU” which also controls numerous drones and a sadistic robot. Alex is under pressure as the project deadline approaches so orders TAU to have Julia run through a series of cognitive tests while he is away during the day. Julia is determined to escape from her high-tech prison, befriending the inquisitive AI who is often sadistically tortured by Alex. Is there any escape?

“Tau” is a character-led film based around the strong-willed Julia attempting to escape from the house that appears to be escape-proof. There is little in the way of deep-nuance to any of the story but rather the relationship between Julia and the child-like Tau with Alex simply the protagonist that offhandedly thwarts her attempts, preferring to see her as subject rather than person, to be used then tossed away as he has previous subjects. There is not a lot of dialogue with the film-makers interested most in using ambiance, body movement and nuance to tell the story. This is not an action film by any stretch though there are the occasional big and violent sequences to wake us up.

Monroe is good as Julia finely balancing her character between being smart and defenceless. Though this performance we never forget that she is street-smart and will never be easily incarcerated. Skrein as Alex is equally nuanced though perhaps not as convincing in his performance as his character moves very little in the course of the film: He is the baddy and that's pretty much that. It is the AI that provides much of the plot but is surprisingly simple and cliched not having moved on much from the Hal 9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Surely we have moved on since the 1960s as far as AI depiction on film is concerned? Yeah, Tau is a lot more glitzy and perhaps a bit more violent, but seriously, demanding the reading of poetry and literature? It does not seem to be terribly logical nor realistic.

A few good effects and action sequences but a small, slow burner of film that never really fully captivates. Way too lethargic with little in the way of surprises with the only mystery being how Julia got there in the first place which is answered in the first 10 minutes.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-01-24

Directed by: Federico D'Alessandro

Studio: Addictive Pictures

Year: 2018

Length: 97 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction