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In “Archive,” an isolated scientist methodically pursues an artificial-intelligence ideal, developing a sequence of human-android Archive beings and recycling their various parts until the ultimate prototype is achieved. In his handsome debut feature, writer-director Gavin Rothery follows a similarly nifty process of assembly and reassembly, repurposing elements from assorted sci-fi successes — a bit of “Ex Machina” here, some stray “Black Mirror” pieces there — to form a fluent, functional one of his particular design. The sleek result, like the scientist’s hi-tech Frankenstein creation, impressively looks and sounds the part, without quite having a soul of its own. That’s enough to make “Archive” a compelling calling card for the British freshman, with the promise of more advanced models to come.

Originally set to premiere at this year’s pandemic-disrupted South By Southwest festival, “Archive” goes on digital release tomorrow Stateside, where it’ll count on fans of former “Divergent” franchise star Theo James to pick it out from virtual shelves of similarly marketed, if less classily executed, genre fare. Even if this minimalist, languidly paced brooder is a world away from YA fantasy, the faithful are unlikely to be disappointed by what turns out to be the British thesp’s most generous and demanding film assignment to date: Much of “Archive” is practically a one-man show, carried stoically by James’ lone-wolf protagonist alongside a trio of androids voiced (and increasingly embodied) by Stacy Martin.

Duration: 109 min


IMDb: 6.3