Technically auspicious and socially conscious as only writer-director Neill Blomkamp (2009's "District 9" and 2013's "Elysium") can be, "Chappie" is exceedingly easy to admire if a little more difficult to fully embrace. Imagining a near-future (as in, 2016) in which the world's first-ever robotic police force has begun to clean up the crime and corruption of South African city Johannesburg, Blomkamp and co-scribe Terri Tatchell use a "newborn" artificially intelligent being as metaphor for—and microscope to—the learned behaviors and impressionable authority that inform early human development. The harsh brutality on display is unpleasant but works extraordinarily well as intended. Less comfortable is the molding of this heavy political attentiveness with the picture's broader aims as an action-oriented mass entertainment, the former attribute serving to drain much of the warmth and joy out of the act of watching the film.
The evolution of android technology has happened much faster than pundits could have possibly predicted, but the creation of one such model built with the specific purpose of law enforcement has begun to silence the Johannesburg slugs of its out-of-control criminality. Although the company involved, Tetravaal Robotics, appears to be thriving, the cost-cutting, status-hungry CEO Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) continues to slash the lead developers' budgets while ramping up production requests. When Michelle shuts down designer Deon Wilson's (Dev Patel) potentially groundbreaking invention of a robot with intelligence surpassing that of humans, he privately snatches one of the damaged A.I.s being prepped for demolition to use as his testing subject.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review