Cast: Alex Neustaedter, Becky G, Alex MacNicoll, Dominic Rains,
Director/screenwriter: Oliver Daly
Genre: Family Sci Fi
Running Time: 100 minutes
Released on January 10th
Based on director Oliver Daly’s 2015 short film “Miles”, the movie opens with a propaganda promo from the government about what A-X-L is and what its purpose is. A-X-L stands for Attack, Exploration, and Logistics. It is a program that combines artificial intelligence with the characteristics of man’s best friend. In this case a robotic dog. Not surprisingly, the prototype turns out to have a few bugs despite its $70 million price tag. In fact, he escapes from a remote facility where he was created by mad scientist Andric (Dominic Rains). The movie then jumps to young Miles Hill (Alex Neustaedter), an amateur motocross racer who just can’t succeed at anything but dirt bike racing. Together with his mechanic father Chuck (Thomas Jane), Miles is able to use his mechanical abilities and underdog spirit to stand up to his rich arch rival Sam played by (Alex MacNicoll).
We also meet the soon-to-be love interest Sara (Becky G), who helps Miles repair his bike after the chain was deliberately broken allowing him to win the race. This win angers his arch rival Sam who plots to embarrass Miles by making his bike falter as Miles makes a jump during some free riding a couple of days after that significant race. Miles’ wounded ego, leads him to a junkyard where he meets A-X-L. At first, A-X-L is hostile and believes Miles to be a threat, but after Miles repairs him, A-X-L begins to trust him and it’s not long before the dog and Miles bond like a dog will do with his master.
Things inevitably take a dramatic turn when A.X.L. is attacked by Sam, who uses a flamethrower to set him on fire. Miles and Sara desperately try to repair him, even as the military uses a massive assemblage of drones to track down what they call “the asset.” It isn’t long before he is on the run from government agents, trying to protect the growing intelligence of his robot companion from those who would just want the dog to be a four-legged gun. This pairing isn’t exactly safe. A-X-L is a government project, and the government, led by Captain Alicia Webber (Marie-Francoise Theodore), soon gets involved in trying to get A-X-L back into their hands. The film uses some good CGI with A-X-L acting like a dog would do in real life. Overall the story is predictable: the military use all their resources to find A.X.L. and Miles and Sara prove equally resourceful in protecting him. The film has enough excitement to sustain our interest and enough futurist suggestions to engage our curiosity and our concern.
Score: 6 out of 10