You Are Being Watched!
With such a cute little robot on the cover as that, and the Highlander himself listed as an actor, how could I ever pass this one up? Not to say that I wasn't a little suspect that this was going to end up being some super-cheesy SyFy channel original movie, but since I enjoy those movies anyways that wasn't about to stop me either. So we dive straight in, and brace ourselves for what may come.
Our story focuses on one "Gunner" Reynolds (Adrian Paul), a cop who's chasing after a suspected terrorist. Thanks to the help of the Eyeborg surveillance systems that were passed into effect in part thanks to Gunner's testimony after his wife was murdered and son kidnapped years ago, he's doing a pretty good job of tracking the man to where we are introduced to yet another character named Jarett Hewes (Lucas Elliot Eberl) - a rock and roller punk who just happens to be related to the president of the United States. As it turns out, our suspect doesn't seem to like him much - a small thing that in the end causes his arrest. Here, we find out about his "crazy talk" conspiracy of how the eyeborgs are falsifying everything they "see", and how they (and the president) must be stopped.
As viewers, we are then treated to an example of just such tampering of video when the little robots end up killing the man when nobody is around to do anything about it, setting it up entirely to make it look like some sort of accidental series of events. The seeds of doubt are thus planted into Gunner's head, as he is so certain that he locked the door that the footage shows him not locking. On the other side of things, news reporter Barbara Hawkins (Megan Blake) feels that something is amiss after investigating the now deceased culprits apartment. On a hunch, she has her cameraman go over some video footage, where he finds evidence of tampering with the footage - a discovery that costs him his life after he tells Barbara and goes to meet her.
Three stories start to align, with each person fully believing there is something wrong with the eyeborgs as events continually stack and we reach our crescendo towards the electoral debates. The ending throws in a nice little twist that can be rather unexpected, and even though things aren't entirely resolved (almost as though they might have planned for a sequel) it leaves of with the trappings of something greater to come. Considering that the movie is essentially about mobile cameras, it actually feels like they put a good deal of thought behind this one.
Actors here do a pretty solid job. It comes off feeling a little bit more akin to a TV movie than an actual big screen flick partly due to line delivery at times, but the thing still has a noticeable polish over made for TV movies. when it comes to the budget/effects side of things. Even characters who are supposedly crazy (such as our murdered 'terrorist' friend) feel as though they are rooted in some form of reality - and indeed, we here people worry about things like that all the time in real life, just watch an episode of Doomsday Preppers and you'll know exactly what I mean. Of all the characters, the only one who doesn't feel as though they are fleshed out at all would be Jarett, who feels more like a plot device then he does someone we are supposed to associate with.
The plot brings to surface a lot of things that people can worry about - much of which surfaced back when the real-world Patriot Act got passed into existence. How much power and control is too much for the government to have? Of course, this is science fiction, and what would a sci fi flick with robots be without the underlying terror of the brotherhood of machines? What happens if the robots start to think on their own, or what if they get hacked by some evil force, or what if they just plain aren't working correctly? It gets to be a bit heavy-handed at times with it's messages and can lead to a feeling of "yeah, we get it, we should beware this and that," regardless of how valid the point may be.
Effects are better than one would normally get out of something like an Asylum movie, with an assortment of different eyeborg styles to round out your fall collection. From cute little two legged web-cam ball looking units all the way up to giant spider looking walker units. For the most part, they blend in to the movie nicely, never really looking so fake or distracting that it breaks the experience of watching the movie in the first place. The little buggers also come equipped with a large variety of weapons, from stun-guns to drills and saws. Overall, it does a decent job bringing a little character into something that's nothing more than a CG camera with legs.
In the end, the conspiracy theorists should love this one, as it fits into multiple different conspiracies (government based and robot based) and does it relatively well at that. It has a pretty good pace to keep things moving, a solid group of people delivering their characters lines and actions, and a believable story to give it direction. I'm not going to say you should go out and buy this thing right now, but if you already have a streaming Netflix account, I can tell you from experience that there are far worse movies you could spend time watching.