In the not so distant future, human boxing has been overtaken by a new sport. A sport where the contenders can be smashed, decapitated and executed at the crowds will.
Robot boxing is big business with a huge following, neither phrase could ever be applied to Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman). Charlie is a struggling washed up ex-boxer, always believing he is just one win away from making good.
Following one fight too many, he is sans robot, not a good space to be in, when fighting is your game. Fortunately Charlie has a long suffering back stop, on/off girlfriend Bailey (Evangeline Lilly), who in real life would be backstop for nobody.
Charlie needs to score some serious cash soon. Fortunately he can sell his 11 year old son, by gifting his custody rights to a well meaning sister in-law. Motherless, poor old Max (Dakota Goya) has been living in miserable luxury but his Aunt wants to make it all official.
Soon the pair are on the road, following a convenient hiatus as the rich folk go to Tuscany, Charlie is not happy, he just wanted the money, not a moppet in tow.
Maybe Charlie has gone too many rounds, as his business sense leaves something to be desired. Max who rather fortunately, is a massive Robot boxing fan, has his head screwed on better than Charlie’s robots.
Alighting on a old Sparring bot “Adam”, the pair start their journey from the bottom, Max with stars in his eyes and Charlie with his eye on the main chance and one last shot at glory.
Charlie is an unlikeable character and Jackman literally pulls no punches in his ambivalence towards Max, involving him in scrapes and situations, no responsible parent ever should.
The effects are seamless, CGI robots interact with the live actors and environments, the audience believing immediately they are real. Goya is no cute movie moppet, giving as good as he gets and clearly having the time of his young life. Jackman is solid and believable and as mentioned, does not take the easy acting route.
Ultimately this is robots fighting in a ring, which is hard to dislike. However, if you imagine what you think this movie will be like, add about another half as much again, for the real emotion and drama the film manages to evoke.
When watching the simulated Robot boxing sport, it’s not so much a question of will this ever exist in reality, it’s just a question of when.
Finishing with a rousing and well staged ending, the Director is clearly confident enough to pause the action for a worthwhile and poignant slow motion sequence, leaving you with a smile on your face.
If you are expecting a standard formulaic father son bonding flick with added robots, this covers those bases, but adds depth and much more.
Good crowd pleasing stuff, recommended