OVERRIDE (2021) Reviews of humanoid A.I. sci-fi thriller

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‘Mankind has met its match’
Override is a 2021 British science fiction thriller film set in 2040 about a female humanoid A.I. who is hacked by her husband. She is then forced to kidnap the U.S. vice president’s son and execute him on live television.

Written and directed by Richard Colton (Dream Hacker; The Seven; Dead Ringer; Dangerous Game). The Amarich Productions-Red Rock Entertainment-The Secret Film Production Company movie stars Luke Goss, Dean Cain, Amar Adatia, Jess Impiazzi and Stefan Boehm.

A young woman finds herself reliving the same day over and over. Each day Ria wakes up to her normal routine but finds a different man, her husband Jack, by her side. She lives her perfect housewife life, until one day her routine becomes tiresome and Ria holds Jack ransom and escapes the house. We find a massive conspiracy plan behind Ria, her husband(s) and the secret is finally revealed…

In the middle of the desert, there sits an isolated pink house.

And inside the house, there lives a woman named Ria (Jess Impiazzi), who wakes up every morning to a neon sign that wishes her a good morning. Every morning, she stands in front of a mirror in her underwear and she asks the world what “fun adventures” it has in store for her today. She then carefully selects her outfit and the colour of her lipstick. She goes into the bedroom and awakens Jack, who is sometimes her husband and sometimes her best friend but who is always a different person.

During the day, she does “chores” around the house. She is always smiling. She is always positive-minded. Every day, at the exact same time, Ria asks Jack to dance with her. Every night, she talks about how she can’t wait to watch the latest episode of her favourite television program. She has a strange habit of holding up everyday products and announcing how much they cost and whether or not there are any special offers associated with them. She talks frequently about how happy she is to be a housewife, which she believes is the most important job that anyone can have. At 9:00, she and Jack retreat into the bedroom. At 7:00, the next morning, she wakes up and does it all over again with a different Jack.

As you may have guessed, Ria is not quite human. In fact, she’s not human at all. She’s an android, built and programmed to be everyone’s fantasy companion. She’s also the start of her own TV show, “A Day With Ria.” People across the country compete for the chance to be Jack for a day and to spend their time using Ria to fulfil their own fantasies.

One of the Jacks (played by Luke Goss) seems to truly care about her. Another Jack viciously abuses her, which Ria accepts without question. Another Jack is just so excited to spend her day with her best friend, Ria! (They have a pillow fight.) Meanwhile, the audience at home votes on what Ria should wear and what meals she should prepare for each Jack. Everyone seems to love watching A Day With Ria, even the vice president of the United States (played by Dean Cain).

Override gets off to a surprisingly good start, doing a good job of bringing us into Ria’s bizarre world. The house in the desert is especially a triumph, a cleverly designed tribute to kitsch that, in all of its pink glory, manages to be both grotesque and inviting, depending on which angle you’re looking at it from. Jess Impiazzi does a good job bringing Ria to life and Luke Goss is well-cast as the most sympathetic of Jacks.

Director Richard Colton has worked extensively as an editor and there’s a wonderfully composed montage in which Ria goes from one Jack to another. Even the film’s low budget works to its advantage, as most reality shows are produced as cheaply as possible. (Seriously, just watch the Big Brother live feeds sometimes.)

Unfortunately, during the second half of the film, things get bogged down with a political conspiracy plot and the attempts to satirize reality TV become increasingly heavy-handed. (One problem with satirizing reality TV is that most reality television show already feel like a parody. No movie or book can make a show like The Bachelorette or, again, Big Brother appear any more ridiculous than an actual episode does.)

As strong as the first half of the film was, the second half is a bit of a mess and nowhere near as compelling. A strong beginning leads to a disappointing (and rather drawn out) ending.

While it’s a shame that the movie couldn’t maintain its narrative momentum, Jess Impiazzi’s performance remains strong and both Luke Goss and Dean Cain do the best that they can with their slightly underwritten characters. The film doesn’t really work as a whole but it still has enough good moments to make the watch worthwhile.

Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens


Other reviews:
“The cast, clearly as confused by all this as we are, react by mugging and flailing about in a number of different registers, all out of sync. That said, Impiazzi herself holds the centre with poise as the mysterious, murderous, robotic tabula rasa on to whom everyone’s desires are projected.” The Guardian

“Luke Goss makes up for some of the recent dirge that he has had the misfortune to appear in with this sci-fi thriller, giving the former pop star his best role since he took bad guy duties in Blade 2 […] Override starts off brilliantly before opting to veer off into taking tired pot-shots at reality TV and throwing in a political conspiracy plot. Less of such contrivances would have worked in its favour…” My Bloody Reviews

Release date:
In the USA, Override was released on DVD by ITN Distribution on April 6, 2021. It is also available via Amazon Prime.

In the UK, Override will be released on DVD by 4Digital Media on September 6, 2021.

Cast and characters:
Luke Goss … David / Jack Number 1
Dean Cain … Vice President Flemming
Amar Adatia … Jack Number 2 / Santiago
Jess Impiazzi … Ria
Stefan Boehm … John
Kimberly Wyatt … Jess
Charlie Clapham … Jack Number 25
Tony Discipline … Steven / Tony
Martin Alexander Colton … Ben (as Martin Alexander)
Leon Ockenden … Robert
Leigh Pollitt … Jack Number 8
Ray Rodriguez … Jack Number 5
Jataun Gilbert … Jack Number 9
Mark Holden … Mitchell
Amber Doig-Thorne … Erika Turner
Cortez Mooney … Jack Number 10
Lori Collins Rodriguez … Jack Number 11
Sarah French … Jack Number 3

Technical details:
95 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Original title:
R.I.A. – Reality Interface Android


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