Simulant parents guide

Simulant Parent Guide

This movie adds nothing to the previous issues raised by android movies - except for plentiful views of suburban Toronto.

Overall C

Theaters: When Evan dies in a car accident, his wife has his memories transplanted into an artificial being. The new Evan doesn't seem to be quite "himself" until a rogue expert removes his cognitive inhibitors, freeing his ability to act. (This movie is currently playing in Canada. It will release in the USA on June 2nd.)

Release date April 7, 2023

Violence C
Sexual Content C-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Simulant rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Simulant Not Rated

Run Time: 95 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Life is going well for Evan (Robbie Amell) and his wife, Faye (Jordana Brewster) until a major car wreck leaves Evan comatose. While his body slowly dies, Faye has his memories transplanted into a 7th generation Simulant, an artificial being virtually indistinguishable from a real person. This is all perfectly legal, even relatively common, but Faye struggles with her decision. Evan just isn’t himself anymore, in more ways than one. Simulants are subject to a number of strict cognitive limitations which are designed to protect humans, but which also prevent Evan from regaining much of his personality. Faye calls in a pro to look at Evan and gets in touch with Casey (Simu Liu). What Faye doesn’t know is that Casey is a radical who’s been going around “unmastering” androids, removing their cognitive inhibitors and obedience programming, essentially allowing them to be free individuals. This is, of course, dangerous and illegal, and Casey is being hunted by Kessler (Sam Worthington) who works for simulant manufacturers tracking down malfunctioning units. And as he closes in on Casey, Evan starts to find more of his “old” self…as if the husband Faye buried is alive in this body of chips, wires, and hydraulics.

All the movies about artificial intelligence come down to an ongoing societal conversation about prejudice, slavery, and otherness. How do we treat an artificial but intelligent being who otherwise looks just like us? When does emerging technology stop being a tool for humanity and become an independent intellect? Stories about how we perceive and treat others are always stories about ourselves, even if we’re mostly talking about robots. Unfortunately, Simulant adds nothing to this conversation that hasn’t been in every other movie about androids, and borrows heavily from everything that came before. I mean sure, we’ve changed Asimov’s famous “Three Laws of Robotics” to “The Four Precepts” by adding a prohibition against committing crimes, but that’s hardly a leap.

A strong performance from Simu Liu notwithstanding, the movie just can’t seem to get off the ground. Mostly it seems to be interested in exploring a low-budget sci-fi aesthetic in what is clearly suburban Toronto and doesn’t really get around to addressing any of those broader themes until the third act. Unfortunately, as soon as the writing tries to explore those issues it takes a steep dive in quality, and rather than engaging with complex ideas just dumps a chunk of clunky polemic masquerading as dialogue on the audience and calls it a day. It’s a disappointing movie – unless you’re just here for Simu Liu. In which case it’s great, since he’s the only part worth watching.

Directed by April Mullen. Starring Simu Liu, Jordana Brewster, Robbie Amell. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release April 7, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Simulant

Rating & Content Info

Why is Simulant rated Not Rated? Simulant is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: A man is killed in a car crash. A character’s hand is broken in an altercation. A man is tazed. Two characters are fatally shot, and another is deliberately drowned.
Sexual Content: There are several scenes of sexual behaviour without graphic detail or explicit nudity. There are several scenes of partial nudity in a non-sexual context.
Profanity: There are nine sexual expletives, four scatological terms, and infrequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially, vaping, and smoking marijuana.

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Home Video

Related home video titles:

There are any number of films about artificial life forms, including standouts like Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, Alien, Ex Machina, I Robot, Metropolis, After Yang, Free Guy, and I’m Your Man, Moon. Other recent options include Mother/Android, M3gan, Zone 414, and, bizarrely, Bigbug.

If you just like lower budget Canadian cinema, try Bright Hill Road, Come True, Level 16, See For Me, The Boathouse, Don’t Say Its Name, and Night Raiders.