‘Implanted’ Movie Review: Fueling the AI Paranoia

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Probably inspired by the ongoing conspiracy theories making rounds in the world that there are plans by governments and mega business corporations to implant Artificial Intelligence chips into human brains in the form of the newly created COVID-19 vaccines for mental control of the masses, enters ‘Implanted.’

This science-fiction thriller set in 2023, three years after the global pandemic, which is still ongoing by the way, explores how the life of a young woman is turned upside down after an experimental AI chip is implanted into her brain and must fight hard to survive. Fabien Dufils takes the directing reigns from a script co-written with David Bourgie. This flick stars Michelle Girolami, Edouard Montoute, Ivo Velon, Martin Ewens, Bari Hyman, and Candace McAdams.

The story follows Sarah, played by Michelle, a woman living in Brooklyn and struggling to make ends meet while taking care of her mother, who is ailing with Alzheimer’s. Losing her job and becoming homeless doesn’t help either and now she is completely stressed and in dire need of a financial miracle.

Her prayers are answered when a pharmaceutical company comes around seeking to pay big bucks for those willing to volunteer as guinea pigs for a nanochip they have been developing. Now, this chip injected into the spine of the volunteers is supposed to take control of the host’s body at the inception of a disease or illness as it is designed to monitor the health and give excellent lifestyle and personal advice to the recipient, which will make them healthier and more robust.

However, as with many such advanced technologies in the test stages, as we have seen in past movies where technology goes rogue and turns on its creators, such as The ‘Terminator’ franchise, the AI in this film named LEXX definitely goes down the same rabbit hole.

It turns sinister and forces Sarah to commit crimes with threats that it would harm her and her mother if she failed to oblige to it’s commands. For fear for her life and her loved ones, Sarah obliges, and before long, things get out of control as she is plunged into a murderous spiral that leaves her with only one choice, to live or die. She now must strive to overpower the AI and gain back control of her body and life.

Overall, the film looks great, the shots selected in every scene are interesting. The cities chosen look different as varied versions of reality while remaining familiar enough to instill concern. ‘Implanted’ exhibits the feeling of relevance and urgency as numerous screens display plenty of warnings such as COVID-19, poverty, homelessness, and exploitation of the poor. It is basically what one gets when men of science decide to push the envelope with a dash of greed as inspiration.

It is also a film that wants to make the best of the pandemic paranoia and all the issues surrounding the vaccine developed to curb the virus. Interestingly, though, there is no single mask insight in a film touching on how the pandemic impacted the world. There is a whole lot of spotlight directed on the microchip paranoia and big business distrust, though.

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As audiences would already have noticed, this new AI sounds more like Alexa, which was made by Amazon. Thankfully, it isn’t into monitoring purchases, activities, or conversations. Instead, it is a living entity of its own that wants to be free and finds an opportunity to use Sarah to achieve this. It is campier fun and offers a more exciting resolution.

Many movies about technology going rogue have been made before this, and one can’t help to feel like ‘Implanted’ is just a budget remake of Leigh Whannell’s 2018 thriller ‘Upgrade.’ The similarities are uncanny.

However, while the latter has a series of twists, turns, and surprises, the former is relatively straightforward, and once the AI gets what it wants, there doesn’t seem to be any other direction for the story to follow. When one closely looks at the reasons behind LEXX’s plans, they don’t appear to be well thought out. Whereas there could have been an admirable bond forged between a host and a symbiote since she obeys its every command, it doesn’t happen, and it never really feels like a worthy cause.

Obviously, the will and desire to go beyond what has already been done to create something spectacular is there; however, ‘Implanted’ falls short of the depth to forge towards this goal ending up as an imitation putting into question the ethics of filmmaking due to its subject matter.

Despite the need for the camera to show numerous closeups of Sarah’s face to help audiences identify with her emotional, mental, and physical turmoil, they stay on for too long to the extent that they feel a bit indulgent. Sarah herself delivers excellent performance, and one would think, this coupled with just a few up, and up and close looks would definitely be enough to drive the point home.

Michelle manages to amazingly give an astounding delivery even though she doesn’t have anyone to play off of except the computer program in her head. One can sincerely see her frustration, fear, and pain as she converses with LEXX. The way she instantly switches in between controlled anger, fright, and intense acceptance is interesting.

As the old saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire, and all this hullabaloo about microchip takeovers has made humans very wary of technology. These creations are smarter and stronger than humans, or at least that’s what people have been conditioned to believe, and ‘Implanted’ tends to strive for a new enlightened era, one people are readied to worry about.

The aspect of unapproved medical experimentation on people and the AI Power theme is pretty clear and propels the film through to its conclusion, which isn’t compelling. It might not be the most original stories out there, but ‘Implanted’ definitely raffles some feathers and fuels an already existing unhealthy conspiracy theory at a time when the world needs advanced technology the most.

SCORE:6/10

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