Society has an unhealthy obsession with technology and AI.
T.I.M. is a sci-fi thriller that explores the dangers of AI technology.
The film centers around a married couple, Abi and Paul, and their interactions with an AI robot named T.I.M.
Let’s face it: Society has an unhealthy obsession with technology, and puts way too much faith and stock into ones and zeroes rather than applying caution and scrutiny to whichever new trend arrives tomorrow. Spencer Brown’s sci-fi thriller T.I.M. feels like a lost episode of Black Mirror that might be even more poignant right now, thanks to all the talk around AI technology like ChatGPT and Midjourney. It’s part scary, part cautionary tale, and all-round entertaining.
Written by Brown and Sarah Govett, T.I.M. centres on married couple Abi (Georgina Campbell) and Paul (Mark Rowley) as they move into their new home after Abi receives a major role at Integratics Robotics. One of the big projects she works on is the creation of an artificial intelligence robot named T.I.M. (Eamon Farren), who looks like a human but is programmed to follow instructions, ranging from online shopping to preparing dinner and running baths. Abi’s boss believes his employees should use the company’s products, so a T.I.M. gets put in Abi and Paul’s home. At first, T.I.M. acts as he’s supposed to; however, everything goes off the deep end when the AI robot begins to favour Abi over Paul.
Like any good sci-fi story should entail, Spencer Brown understands the core theme is ultimately about humanity’s relationship with the future. For Abi, her motivations are clear: Be at the forefront of new AI technologies for her company while starting a family with Paul. However, there is tension between Abi and Paul over a past betrayal. So, when Paul becomes distrusting and uncomfortable over T.I.M., Abi doesn’t take him seriously, believing he may be hiding something himself and deflecting. As a couple, their future remains uncertain, and it’s thrown into further disarray when T.I.M. enters the fray and begins proving John Connor was right but should have gone after ChatGPT instead of Skynet.
What Brown, cinematographer Dave Miller, and editor Sadaf Nazari also do well is to keep the audience guessing with the clever framing and editing of the scenes. The way the story is presented hides a lot of what’s happening and uses sleight of hand to omit intentional details. Sure, there are dead giveaways if the viewer pays attention and T.I.M. is about as trustworthy as a dog in a butchery, but there are a few critical moments that leave serious questions and doubts until the answers arrive later on in the film.
There are a number of performers in T.I.M.; however, the focus remains on Abi, Paul, and T.I.M. for the bulk of the film. As a result, it’s up to actors Georgina Campbell, Mark Rowley, and Eamon Farren to carry the story and this unique Fatal Attraction dynamic. There are moments between Campbell’s Abi and Farren’s T.I.M. that make the audience wonder if this relationship between a human and a robot could actually become something more, while Rowley’s Paul always looks at the robot with nothing but disdain.
Farren holds one of the most challenging roles in the film, but he is convincing as the humanoid robot. He controls his movements to showcase he isn’t human, but there are fleeting moments in his expressions, particularly his eyes, which demonstrate something is happening with T.I.M. There’s an obvious inner struggle as this character tries to become sentient through his learning of the environment and world around him, but he has absolutely no clue what to do with human emotions.
It’s also worth noting that Campbell is absolutely crushing her recent run as a lead actor, and it won’t be long until she’s the next big thing in the entertainment industry. Zach Cregger’s Barbarian establishes her as a scream queen, while Álex and David Pastor’s Bird Box Barcelona and now T.I.M. show she has the thriller genre in hand too. Campbell deserves all the plaudits and opportunities because she delivers a slam-dunk performance every single time she is given the ball.
T.I.M. features its fair share of predictability and it doesn’t exactly reinvent the sci-fi thriller genre, but the Fatal Attraction-like love triangle between Abi, Paul, and T.I.M. proves to be highly entertaining and impossible to ignore. It’s clear from the get-go that this situation isn’t going to end well for someone when all is said and done, and watching it unfold delivers the thrills and spills for the viewer at home. There’s serious sequel potential here, so don’t be surprised to see the murder bot make a comeback in the near future if this movie ends up becoming a success.
Prosthetics engineer Abi moves to the countryside to work on Integrate Robotic's latest product - a humanoid artificial intelligence called T.I.M. - Technologically. Integrated. Manservant.
Studio: Altitude, Stigma Films
Running Time: 1h 41m
Release Date: August 16, 2023
Cast: Georgina Campbell, Eamon Farren, Mark Rowley
Director: Spencer Brown
Writers: Spencer Brown, Sarah Govett
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
T.I.M. may not break new ground in the science fiction thriller domain with its predictable elements, but the intensely captivating love triangle involving Abi, Paul, and T.I.M., reminiscent of Fatal Attraction, ensures an enthralling and unmissable experience.
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.