Occasionally, a not-so-great movie also does something so right that you have to forgive some of its sins and give it a little love. Such is the case with the latest film from Keanu Reeves, Replicas, which takes a HoloLens-style device and gives us a look at how future research labs might use that kind of augmented reality device, sort of.
The film features Reeves as a neuroscientist who has developed a method for transplanting the memories and consciousness from a person's body into a humanoid robot, and later a flesh and bone clone.
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Good science fiction often shoots for the biggest ideas, and this is indeed one of the biggest and, according to some, most difficult scientific breakthroughs that researchers are trying tackle in real life. But that doesn't stop Replicas from going deep with the idea, as it makes the whole process as simple as swiping at a few AR interfaces and baking new bodies in incubator pods for 17 days.
Even fans of outlandish sci-fi B-movie fun will find much of what Replicas tries to get you to accept as part of the film's world as overly simplified, too unexplained, and generally pretty sloppy. That's why it was so odd to suddenly find a few great (albeit made-up) illustrations in the film of how we may use devices like the HoloLens and the Magic Leap One in the near future.
Without getting too deep into the weeds about the ridiculous things that happen in the film, in short, the AR device that neuroscientist Reeves uses allows him to peer into a person's brain and edit their memories. Of course, to make this happen, the person must first have a massive needle inserted through their eye into their brain to record their brain pattern.
This Easy-Bake solution completely skips over the long-debated question of whether a person's memories are equal to their consciousness as a person (which, if possible, might eventually lead to everyone moving to robot bodies and becoming immortal, whee! #transhumanism).
But if you can somehow ignore all those unexplained voodoo-science leaps, it's actually pretty fun to watch Reeves regularly don the AR headset and start gesturing his way toward the (fictional) future. In some ways, the AR imagery is reminiscent of Tony Stark in his Iron Man lair, but by adding the AR visor and headband, the film makes the pretend science look just a little more plausible.
Nevertheless, science fantasy aside, the world of real science and technology often draws inspiration from science fiction, so it's possible that some real-world researchers may get a look at this film and think, "Hmm, maybe it's time to give the HoloLens a look?" Sure, this is already happening for some in various fields, but such devices are far from ubiquitous. So in that respect, Replicas, despite its flaws, may inadvertently be a great advertisement for high-end AR.
As for the movie itself, which also stars Alice Eve (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Netflix's Iron Fist), it had a limited indie release in November, and will officially debut in US theaters on Jan. 11. You can check out the full trailer below.