“Chappie” is a heartfelt science fiction film set in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fans of Director Neill Blomkamp’s film, “District Nine,” will notice much of the same plot mirrored in “Chappie.” While seeming like a “District Nine” revamp, “Chappie” holds onto its originality and offers a new look at the debate on human consciousness and the soul.
Set in a not too distant future, crime in South Africa has risen to almost uncontrollable levels. Thanks to the efforts of tech giants Tetra Vaal teaming up with the Johannesburg Police, crime rates begin to slowly decline. Tetra Vaal employee, Dion Wilson (Dev Patel), has designed and created scout robots equipped with artificial intelligence. His creation is such a success; his robots almost completely displace humans on the police force. Through this success, Dion cracks the code for creating A.I. that possesses a consciousness and is essentially a living being. Dion quickly brings this to his boss (Sigourney Weaver) and after having his idea shut down, he takes matters into his own hands.
Dion steals a damaged robot with the intentions of testing his new A.I. on it. He doesn’t get very far down the road before his car is hijacked and he is kidnapped by a group of hardcore gangsters. The group had kidnapped him in hopes of acquiring a switch that would shut down all the scout robots. But when Dion reveals this isn’t possible, their plans shift. The group discovers the robot parts in the back of Dion’s truck and after threatening him; they convince Dion to assemble the robot and train it to assist them in a heist they have planned.
Once the program is uploaded onto the robot, Chappie is born, but he is essentially a baby. Dion reveals that Chappie will only have a battery life of five days, so his learning is very accelerated. As the group’s plans come together, disaster strikes and the lives of Dion, the group of gangsters, and Chappie (if you can call it life) are changed forever.
“Chappie” is original, it is packed with action and humor and it strikes an interesting debate on human consciousness and life. Is it moral or right for a person to create life?
The only pitfall “Chappie” falls victim to is that some of the character interactions are quite repetitious. It felt like the movie got caught in a rut at certain parts but this didn’t distract too much from the movie as a whole.
“Chappie” offers new insight to the debates on consciousness and souls, while also laying out an interesting plot line that really hooks in the viewer.