Robot Wars [Kill Box] (2016)

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that there is a strong possibility that there are no robots in this film.

Not even one.

There is a big, lumbering thing which looks like a robot.  But it might just be a guy in some sort of heavy combat armor.  That is never really made all that clear.  At any rate, it only shows up twice – and we only see it shooting the second time.  Not much of a “war”, really.

Mind you, I’m not sure “Kill Box” was that much better a name.  There’s a scene early on, when they emerge onto a rooftop which is surrounded by some sort of screens.  I expected that they’d be trapped there and there were guards waiting for them who would open fire (a “kill box” in military parlance) and that they’d spend the rest of the movie trapped there…

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead, the name seems to have come from the MacGuffin they were sent to steal, some sort of deadly device.  In a box.

A “kill box.”  What else?

At least they didn’t call it “Fred.”

This is basically a heist film.

Someone once argued that the test for whether something is really Science Fiction is to take out the SF elements and see if the story still makes sense.  I, admittedly, tend to think that is far too stringent a test.  However, the SF background of Robot Wars, where the state and society in general have broken down and huge corporations have filled the vacuum, has a decided role in the story.  Once the team’s original plan has fallen apart, they are forced to flee through a lawless zone where they have to face not only the company they stole the “box” from, but the warring gangs who control the sprawl – and their own employer, because one of them has sold out to yet another company.

This is William L. Stewart’s second film, after the more extravagant The Men Who Fell.  It seems a little hampered by its mild “found footage” approach, where the footage supposedly came from the implants in the main character’s eyes and any security cameras in the area, although that does give him a fair number of viewpoints to work with (even if mostly from the same height) and  (thankfully) the head up displays in the early part of the film don’t stick around for too long.

But it moves fairly well, has a plot that is a little more complex than one expects from this sort of film, and its future setting is definitely one that is worth exploring.

It isn’t a great film, but I enjoyed it.

Mostly.

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