December 31, 2021 Mother/Android (Movie Review)
The entire world changing as we know it is a concept that has become frighteningly realistic to audiences of late. Premiering December 17, 2021 on Hulu, though Mother/Android has a rather more Sci-Fi setting, it still manages to successfully play on our fears of suddenly having to navigate a world filled with uncertainty for us and our families.
Indeed, that is exactly what happens to college student Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz: Kick-Ass 2010, Carrie 2013) and her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith: Detroit 2017, Judas and the Black Messiah 2021). On their way to a Christmas party, Georgia and Sam find their whole world suddenly turned upside down when Georgia discovers that she is pregnant. As they storm out of the house, a pristine looking man offers them a “Happy Halloween.” Little do they know that this is the first sign that theirs is not the only world that is about to implode completely.
Written and directed by Mattson Tomlin, in his feature debut, Mother/Android is a little bit like a lot of other films in the genre, but never quite enough on its own. The premise, that our faithful Android helpers have turned on us and are now intent on wiping out humanity, is not a new one and unfortunately a nine month time jump doesn’t let the audience know why or how the Androids have turned on humans. Georgia and Sam now find themselves trekking through deserted woods in the hopes of trying to reach the stronghold of Boston. This allows for some emotional nuances, but Mother/Android is far more interesting and exciting when the Androids get involved.
Identical in looks to humans, it is impossible to tell who is an Android and who isn’t one until you get close enough for it to be too late. Some of the Androids are battle worn, displaying torn away faces with exposed jaws and teeth. They are relentlessly cruel, capturing any humans they find and torturing them, and are genuinely scary. When the action starts up, it feels reminiscent of a zombie film, as these demented beings chase their prey. This is where Mother/Android really shines, and audiences could not be blamed for wishing for more of those scenes rather than the quiet ones between Georgia and Sam as they try to decide how best to proceed for them and their due any moment baby.
Moretz and Smith cannot be faulted for their performances, especially Moretz as she displays some great moments of tenderness and love. However, the dynamic between the couple is based completely on their impending parenthood – they only talk about the baby and noting is really known of them, the life they once led or the people they left behind. Without much character backstory or development, it is hard for the audience to get as emotionally involved as Mother/Android requires. The audience is rooting for the young couple and their baby purely because not to would be as unhuman as one of the rogue Androids.
Mother/Android certainly deserves praise for making great use of its budgetary and production limitations. Filmed at the height of the pandemic, it is impressive that Mother/Android manages to create the post-apocalyptic world that it does. The cinematography also adds to the bleak new world and the audience is left in no doubt that this is not a world that anyone would want to find themselves in.
All this said, Mother/Android’s final act is arguably its best, as the action builds to a climax and the emotion rises to a crescendo. It doesn’t pull any punches, and if audiences are looking for a feel-good film then this is not the film for them. It is a solid first feature from Tomlin, but unfortunately it never quite lives up to its potential. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Mother/Android 3 out of 5 stars.