Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Machines are out to get us. Again

Seth Green plays a guerrilla cyber-terrorist in the high- concept but poorly executed "Delete."
Seth Green plays a guerrilla cyber-terrorist in the high- concept but poorly executed "Delete."
Seth Green plays a guerrilla cyber-terrorist in the high- concept but poorly executed "Delete." Gallery: Machines are out to get us. Again
Let us pray that whoever eventually designs a functioning artificial intelligence system devotes extra effort to fortifying its loyalty firewalls.

Because in movies, every time computers gain sentience, they inevitably turn on us. Virtual power, it would seem, corrupts absolutely.

It's happening again on Monday in the made-for-cable film Delete (8 p.m. on Reelz).

A series of disasters (reactor meltdown in Iran, misguided missile over Cali) are at first blamed on a shadowy digital radical group, Dubito.

But the facts aren't adding up. In fact, the first half of this curiously long movie (2 hours plus) could be summed up in this bit of dialogue: "Sir, I never gave those orders." "Then who the hell did?"

I'll tell you who: a computer that has gained consciousness, or as the characters in the film like to refer to it, "a singularity." And it is bent on the destruction of mankind! If for no other reason than to generate suspense.

Soon it's doing all those spooky things that smarty-pants machines always do: sealing doors, releasing toxic gas, and talking in the same inflectionless voice they've been using since HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

With anarchy in the streets and nuclear annihilation looming, it's up to an improbable alliance to save the world: a reporter at the Pittsburgh Chronicle (Erin Karpluk), a teenage hacker (Keir Gilchrist), and an untraditional FBI agent (Ryan Robbins).

Also making a late, brief, and oddly intense appearance is Seth Green as a heavily bescarved guerilla cyber-terrorist. (Those are the worst kind.)

Delete is a murky and jaundiced-looking film. High concept, paltry execution. And it has a chintzy feel. The action ostensibly takes place in a number of international settings, but it all appears to have been shot on the back streets of Flint, Mich. Even the car the heroes drive is an old Chevy beater that takes three cranks to start.

The plot implausibilities sometimes spike into absurdity. A lives-with-mom geek comes up with a far-fetched conspiracy theory that has no grounding in proof, and two minutes later, he's a got a private audience with the top brass of the NSA.

And the ghost in the machine is able to effortlessly compromise a five-star general (Gil Bellows) into betraying the human race.

You may have one of those smart DVRs that recommends programming for you (be wary; if this were a movie, it would be plotting your demise.) Should it suggest you record Delete, don't bother. You're only going to end up deleting it.


Contact David Hiltbrand at dhiltbrand@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_TV.

Read his blog at www.inquirer.com/daveondemand.

David Hiltbrand Inquirer TV Critic
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