The Creator is director Gareth (Star Wars: Rogue One) Edwards’ troubling ode to the best scifi and action films of the 1970s/80s. The movie stars John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson and Alison Janney.
The Creator is set in 2070, 15 years after a nuclear detonation in Los Angeles and a war against artificial intelligence (A.I.). Washington is Sgt Joshua Taylor, a military undercover operative tasked with discovering the identity of Nirmata, the creator of an A.I. weapon that can end the war, in favour of A.I.
In the opening sequence, Taylor is embedded with the A.I. sympathisers in New Asia, married to Maya (Chan), the daughter of the A.I. creator, who is carrying Taylor’s child. In an ensuing attack by American forces, Maya is seemingly killed and Taylor’s life is shattered. The story picks up again as the American military persuades Taylor to continue his search for Nirmata, on the pretext that Maya is still alive.
Now, The Creator is a jarring experience especially for an Asian viewer as the movie is set up as an East vs West conflict. The East have embraced A.I. while the West seeks to destroy A.I. Worse yet, many of the A.I. sims have Asian faces, thus its is literally Americans fighting against Asians. Disturbing. Why Edwards made this narrative choice is beyond me. Extremely divisive. It seems too black and white to be realistic, as if Edwards has a social message to deliver.
In this respect, this movie references numerous scifi and action films, from Terminator and Matrix (A.I. as the enemy), Blade Runner (A.I. fighting for survival), Apocalypse Now! (Vietnam war allusions) and even Elysium (grim and gritty dystopian future). Thus, it does seem like a patchwork many times over. There is no denying Edwards ambition in his attempt to forge something fresh and “original” but the echoes of previous classic movies threaten to overwhelm.
The Creator is worth watching and supporting if nothing else for film studios to wean away from the endless remakes, reboots, spin-offs, prequels and sequels assembly line even if the audience in general is unwilling. Recommended.
Watch now on AppleTV+
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