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With crime on the rise at an alarming rate in South Africa, the police turn to technology to assist in eradicating the widespread threat. This technology comes in the form of a robot counterpart who can do the “heavy lifting” so to speak while preserving human law enforcement lives in the process. The problem is that as police tactics evolve so does the common criminal. And as history has proven time and time again, there are usually unexpected consequences involved with this type of evolution. In this case, it comes in the eventual form of a very unique robot named Chappie.

Deon (Dev Patel) is a very bright engineer whose human sized robotic creations have changed the landscape of how crime is dealt with in the city. He works for a company run by Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) that supplies these robots to the police department. And business is booming these days. Deon has since moved onto developing another project in his spare time that would allow for a free thinking, more human-esque type of robot versus the ones controlled by the police that are used now. Another engineer, Vincent (Hugh Jackman) who is former military, has a completely different idea of the direction the company needs to go. He’s been trying to get his project funded which involves a menacing, much larger robot that is built solely for combat purposes.

On the other side of the coin, a small gang of criminals unknowingly set off a chain of events that alter everything. This group is led by Ninja (Ninja) and Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser). If those two names sound familiar, which for most they will not, it’s because the duo are also known as Die Antwoord, a South African rap-rave group. They are the catalyst that assists in bringing Chappie into the world. He behaves like a child. And like a child, he has difficulty discerning right from wrong, while also being prone to manipulation due to a desire for acceptance. On the off chance you didn’t know, Sharlto Copley provides the voice of Chappie and is the motion actor for the body movements, as well as some of its facial expressions.

The overall tone of Chappie is more on the serious side. There are, however, some welcome lighthearted distractions that mostly involve Chappie attempting to understand this new world he’s been introduced to. The special effects are done very nicely as everything looks smooth and natural, especially with robots movement.

Neill Blomkamp has conveyed one consistent message in each of the first three movies he has both written and directed; Oppression exists but will not be tolerated, because eventually someone will fight back and give power to the people. South Africa has a long history of this behavior both past and present. Being a native of South Africa, Blomkamp is surely driven by these events, as well as similar ones around the world. He wants to raise awareness of these atrocities. He chooses to do it in a creative and cinematic way that allows a very diverse group of people to experience it, without the total discomfort of watching an infomercial.

Fans of Blomkamp will enjoy his latest movie, while those unfamiliar with his work may have a tough time with it. Either way, this sci-fi action thriller is worth checking out.

Chappie is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler


  1. Conflicted in my opinion of this movie. Can’t decide it it was bad blend of comedic scenes with the action/drama. Or just PG comedy worthy of a six year old. But it just didn’t feel right combining the two. Kinda like Mad Max infused with a little Pee Wee Herman.

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