Hypothetical question: If you’ve got a movie to promote that stars Gary Oldman as a murderous artificial intelligence, doesn’t that seem like something you’d highlight in the film’s first trailer? It does, doesn’t it? It’s not just us, right?
Questions aside, that’s what we found ourselves wondering while watching the just-released first trailer for Netflix’s Tau, which hits the streaming service on June 29. Nowhere in the footage does the film credit Gary Oldman, a guy who just won Best Actor at the Oscars a few months ago, as one of the main characters, which certainly seems like an odd choice to us, but what do we know?
Tau is a cyber-thriller of sorts, starring Maika Monroe of It Follows fame as a young woman kidnapped by a man (Ed Skrein) and held prisoner in some sort of futuristic smart home. According to the implications of the film’s synopsis, her only way out is to forge some kind of bond with the artificial intelligence that controls the home, voiced by Oldman. The parallels to something like Alex Garland’s Ex Machina are obvious, although we also can’t help but be reminded of the robot companion played by Kevin Spacey in Duncan Jones’ Moon. The film is the directorial debut of Federico D’Alessandro, best known as an animatronics supervisor and storyboard artist on a number of MCU and DCU films, including Doctor Strange, The Mummy and Ant-Man. Here’s the film’s full synopsis:
Once a street-smart grifter, Julia (Maika Monroe) is the latest young woman held captive, a body and a mind to be exploited in a fatal experiment. The only thing standing in the way of her freedom is TAU, the advanced artificial intelligence developed in secret by Alex (Ed Skrein), her masochistic and enigmatic captor. TAU is armed with a battalion of drones and robots that automate Alex’s futuristic smart house and laboratory, the walls lined with screens that visually transport it from grassy plains to the depths of space. TAU’s potential is only limited by his understanding of the world he exists in, but TAU is ready for more. Julia, showing resourcefulness and courage, must race against time to bridge the boundaries between man and machine, connect to TAU and win her freedom before she suffers the same fate as the six other subjects who came before her.
It will be interesting to see if Tau is the project that can propel the 25-year-old Monroe to new heights as a leading lady, after she gained a name through appearances in It Follows and Adam Wingard’s excellent The Guest. Other than a largely pointless role in Independence Day: Resurgence in 2016, the actress has mostly appeared in smaller projects since, although her slate for 2018 and 2019 seems quite full.
Tau, for its part, looks pretty slick—one part Black Mirror episode, one part Cube and one part M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, except with a computer instead of a crossdressing James McAvoy. Check out the full trailer below, and catch it on Netflix on June 29. Here’s hoping that it vastly exceeds the disappointment of this year’s earlier Netflix sci-fi stinker, Mute.