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Atlas movie review: Jennifer Lopez bonding with AI tech to take down AI tech is quite lame

A counter-terrorism analyst must get over her mistrust of AI to stop a robotic terrorist from doing a Thanos

Prathibha Joy
May 24, 2024
Atlas movie review: Jennifer Lopez bonding with AI tech to take down AI tech is quite lame

Jennifer Lopez in a still from Atlas


Atlas movie story: Atlas Maru Shepherd (Jennifer Lopez) a counter-terrorism analyst, has been studying AI and how to track down the AI terrorist Harlan (Simu Liu). Harlan, designed by Atlas’ mother, as a house bot to improve human life, goes rogue, and wages war on humanity. He and his gang of evil robots are able to wreak quite a bit of havoc, until he is forced to retreat and even flee earth. 28 years later, one of Harlan’s trusted aides, Casca (Abraham Popoola), is caught and during his interrogation, Atlas figures out Harlan’s hide out. A fully-loaded battleship is sent to detain him, with Atlas also in tow, but Harlan intercepts them, forcing Atlas to overcome her ‘dislike’ for AI and sync with a mech suit.

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Atlas movie review: As long as AI does what it is meant to – make our lives better – and doesn’t overstep its boundaries, Jennifer Lopez as the title protagonist Atlas, is perfectly at ease with adopting the technology. Just don’t get too close. Of course, circumstances force her to allow an AI neural tech to sync with her, which she fights with all her might for as long as she could, but in the end ends up trusting it with her life and ‘bonding’ too. This is not much of a spoiler; it’s what you will see from a mile away at the earliest signs of Atlas’ distrust of AI.

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Atlas, the movie, is a JLo show from start-to-finish. Simu Liu is there as the villain Harlan, but he has precious little to do, as do Sterling K Brown and Mark Strong. Simu took the character description that he’s a robot to heart and is deadpan as Harlan, while Sterling and Mark at least try to rise above the mediocre material they were saddled with. Other than making the list of actors on the cast look impressive, these three offer nothing much to look forward to. This is a film about JLo making friends with the AI in her mech suit. She gets her own Jarvis; only here he is called Smith (voiced by Gregory James Cohan).

Simu Liu to play the antagonist in Jennifer Lopez-fronted Atlas 

The problem with Atlas is that everything feels too familiar. Atlas is Terminator’s Sarah Connor but without the guns, with a little bit of Detective Spooner from I, Robot; Harlan’s like a mix of Sunny and VIKI from I, Robot, the mech suits are from Avatar, and well, the AI is from Avengers. That seen-it-all feeling is hard to shake, even though JLo tries her best, what with most of her portions being inside a suit and her conversations with her new AI pal. But most importantly, the fact that one remembers these characters, both human and machine, tells of the impact they’ve had and the superior writing involved.

Atlas movie verdict: Atlas is not a bad movie; it’s one of those buddy films, but with a human and a robot. Having said that, I’d take John Connor and the T-800 (Terminator) or Detective Spooner and Sunny over this any day, because Atlas just doesn't engage.


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