By: Trevor Chartrand

For years, filmmakers have pondered the potentially apocalyptic dangers of self-aware, sentient computers: from Kubrick to the Wachowski’s, and everything in between.  The machine uprising is an all-too-common cautionary tale, but has also never been more relevant than it is today.  With deepfakes and ChatGPT, it appears we are closer than we’ve ever been to this trope becoming a reality.  So the timing is right for director Spencer Brown to throw his hat in the ring, with the ominous artificial intelligence thriller, T.I.M.

Much like 2014’s Ex Machina, T.I.M. focuses on a robotics expert, Abi (Georgina Campbell), hired to further develop and test a humanoid AI, the first of its kind.  In this case, it’s a personal butler known as a T.I.M. – a Technologically Integrated Manservant (played by The Witcher’s Eamon Farren).  Abi’s husband Paul (Mark Rowley) doesn’t trust the A.I. from its initial start-up – an uneasiness Abi dismisses as paranoia.  Paul’s fears may prove justified though, when T.I.M. begins to exhibit an unusual obsession with Abi, and appears to be actively working towards getting Paul out of the picture… 

Written by Brown and Sarah Govett, T.I.M. is a haunting sci-fi thriller overall.  While this is a story well-told, the movie doesn’t offer enough in the way of surprises and suspense.  Audiences should be able to tell roughly where we’re headed early on;  especially with numerous, clunky attempts at foreshadowing that may as well just be spoilers for the inevitable finale. 

So while the narrative isn’t exactly innovative, the film is still quite compelling thanks to the strong performances from our cast.  Campbell and Ferren especially stand out, with their unusually uncomfortable chemistry together.  Ferren expertly portrays the T.I.M. character with a cold detachment that, slowly and subtly, becomes a possessive type of anger – it’s quite the accomplishment.  Ferren conveys a surprising amount of range despite being limited to one blank, robotic stare throughout the entire film. 

The T.I.M. also comes to life with the assistance of some convincing make-up and prosthetic effects that are quite seamless and effective.  The movie is often supported by smart visuals and set designs that parallel the materia thematically.  Abi and Paul’s sparse, modern apartment often feels empty and cold, much like the A.I. itself, for example.  There really is some chilling ambience in this picture. 

Ultimately though, T.I.M. functions as a timely parable more than anything else.  It examines the dangers of humankind’s careless meddling, the terrifying concept of constructing our own demise.  It’s a film that examines an old trope, for sure, but it’s also a product of its time, when this stirring concept is closer to reality than it has ever been before.


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