Almost all future shock is the same. Either it's a cautionary tale of technology out of control or a warning to mankind that they are not alone in nature/knowledge/the universe. They are typically built around dystopias, societies suffering at the hands of their own hubris, places where the natural order has been thrown out of whack and everyone believes in the viability of their misguided master plan. Delete is a film like this (actually, it's a Canadian mini-series marketed as a cinematic event for the Reelz Channel), except it does its doom and gloom bit with all the spectacle of a school project. It's not bad, so to speak, just limited by things such as budget, direction, set-up, premise, pay-off, concept, casting, and cleverness. We are supposed to see this story of a self-aware computer program and its desire to destroy mankind as a creative and original concept. Instead, director Steve Barron walks us through a narrative we've experienced dozens of times before, and does so without any of those previous efforts wit, wisdom, and wiliness.
When a nuclear power plant in Iran suffers a meltdown and an intercontinental ballistic missile ends up in a California playground, the NSA is convinced that terrorists have hacked into the worldwide digital grid and are wrecking havoc. This group, known as "Dubito" offers the typical rebel yell, but before they can be accused of these crimes, they are all assassinated. Now, an investigative journalist named Jessica Taylor (Erin Karpluk) must team up with an adolescent tech geek (Keir Gilchrist) and an FBI agent (Gil Bellows) to uncover the truth, and wouldn't you know it, it's a rogue program known as Singularity that has a Jones against the human race. As trains derail, cellphones explode, and other unnatural disasters strike, our team must find a way to stop this psychotic collection of zeroes and ones from ending our claim to the Third Rock from the Sun. (Where's The Asylum when you need them???)
Sheesh - Delete is really full of itself. This is schlock pretending to be serious speculative fiction. While borrowing from about a bazillion different sources - pick a post-modern sci-fi effort and see if this movie doesn't mimic, or mock, it - it provides some decent F/X and little logic. If you go into this almost-fiasco with the right set of expectations, you may come out entertaining. But for those who want a little brains with their shape of things to come, this script is beyond stupid. In fact, the entire story functions in the kind of cultural vacuum that only occurs on celluloid. Apparently, no one in this version of our upcoming reality has heard of WarGames...or The Matrix...or The Net...or I, Robot. Indeed, NO ONE has ever thought that a computer program could achieve AI - artificial intelligence - and then decide that mammalian bipeds need no longer apply. Any right thinking scientist would consider the concept - "I want to build a super-intelligent, supremely salient computer program" - and then immediately start wondering how to avoid the thing going Skynet on everyone. Here, no one has access to Netflix, apparently.
Then there is the series of social setbacks. Does anyone care if a Iran goes Three Mile Island? How about a few oil tankers taken hostage? What typically sets these films apart from the pack are their apocalyptic end games. David Lightman was accidentally initiating World War III. Neo...or Mr. Anderson, whatever...was bringing down an entire machine-built VR utopia. Here, Singularity wants to get rid of mankind because, well, because it can. It's like your typical power mad despot, determined to undermine the rest of the world because someone gave them the tools to do so. Surely a computer program this smart (or savvy) would recognize how futile its efforts would be, and how flawed. Who will provide IT support? Where will Singularity get the wealth of worthless junk that floods our email inboxes and YouTube channels to build its burgeoning empire? Let's face it - machines need humans, if only as target practice. By picking out people for eradication, this insane operating system is only attacking one of its potential problems. Then again, a movie like Delete determines that this is perfectly fine, as long as it is in service of a sensible three hour story. It's not.
While there is a Blu-ray version of this release out there, those who are curious about this title would best be served with a standard DVD. With its flat, washed out color scheme and lack of any real visual panache, the HD version of this offering would be nothing short of disappointing. At least here, the 1.78:1 widescreen image is excused by the format. As for the sonic scenarios presented, we are given a typical Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that manages a few rear channel challenges during the infrequent action scenes, and little else. The dialogue and most of the aural elements are left to the front, and while said conversations are always clear, the result is far from reference quality. In the added content department, we are treated to a series of cast and crew interviews (read: EPKs for Reelz insatiable need for same) and a short snippet of the next "Doomsday" oriented title - Exploding Sun (now doesn't that sound like fun - cough cough Danny Boyle's Sunshine cough cough).
Delete is determined to have you believing in a world too digitally interconnected, of computer programs too self-aware for their own motherboard britches, and humanity's eventual ability to trick said superbrain into succumbing to a last act save. It even offers up Seth Green to prove something or other. For the most part, this made for TV trial is a guileless, grown inducing mess. On the other hand, there are worst ways to spend your dateless Saturday nights. As a result, Delete earns a reluctant Rent It. You won't suffer too much at its overstuffed hands. Then again, most future shock is superior to this glimpse into our not too 'distinct' future.
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