The 2022 robot movie “Wifelike” is quite similar to the 2019 Josh Janowicz sci-fi thriller “Life Like,” but is far more mundane, sexist, and incoherent. While “Life Like” delves into the challenges faced by a wealthy couple when they purchase a male robot from a company that provides both male and female robots, “Wifelike” focuses on a company that exclusively caters to male buyers, offering only female robots as their lifelong companions. An activist organization considers these robots as cutting-edge sex slaves, leading to calls for the end of such AI exploitation.
Written and directed by James Bird, “Wifelike” stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the protagonist, William Bradwell, a widower who acquires an AI named Meredith (Elena Kampouris) to fill the void left by his late wife. The couple becomes the target of a rogue organization that steals and reprograms female robots. As Meredith attempts to fulfill her role as William’s wife, it becomes apparent that he is concealing much more about her human life than he reveals.
Elena Kampouris as Meredith is the only redeeming aspect of this film; she captures the nuances of a machine-like human flawlessly. And despite being a bit of a Jonathan Rhys Meyers fan since his “Bend It Like Beckham” days, it was challenging to find anything likable about his peculiar role and performance in “Wifelike.” William’s character exhibits a creepy “savior complex,” which is actually in tandem with his work at the AI firm, which involves recovering stolen AI wives and ensuring their safety. I despised the implication that women consumers don’t wield significant buying power; since the film is set in a world where companies seem to manufacture only female robots to be bought as wives.
At a time when AI is becoming increasingly integrated into all aspects of human life, the film tries to explore questions about the boundaries of their roles in society and whether they can entirely supplant traditional roles as friends, colleagues, and lovers. It also prompts consideration of how much autonomy should be granted to an AI and if they should have rights too. However, “Wifelike” fails to delve deeper into the subject than other existing films and is nowhere as engaging or entertaining as “Her,” “Ex Machina,” or even “M3GAN,” which focused on childlike companions.
James Bird’s film is a frivolous sexual drama which pretends to be intellectual but only comes off as inferior. It’s awfully predictable and the climax makes little sense when you begin to apply logic. Either that, or William and Meredith live in a paradoxical world where machines might be extremely sophisticated, but the legal system is blatantly flawed, and it’s ridiculously easy to get away with crimes like murder.
Rating: 3 on 10. Watch it on Netflix if you are looking for steamy movie with little plot.
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