A transhumanist tale
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A transhumanist tale

Brazilian sci-fi flick Bionic explores a world where cybernetic implants are the norm

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A transhumanist tale
Jessica Córes and Bruno Gagliasso in Bionic. (Photo: Netflix)

Countless science fiction movies explore the relationship between humans and technology, or how we can enhance our bodies through technological advancements. This week, Netflix dropped Bionic, a Brazilian sci-fi action film that immerses viewers in a future where cybernetic implants and elite para-athletics are the norm.

Directed by Afonso Poyart, Bionic imagines a near future where elite prosthetic athletes dominate the sports world. A tech company's brain-fluent software and custom, solid-fibre artificial limbs have created a new level of human capability and though this is exciting, it also brings significant dangers.

Maria (Jessica Córes) is a woman who dreams of following in her mother's footsteps to become a long jump athlete. However, she is held back by the futuristic society she lives in where individuals with bionic limbs receive more attention and fame than traditional athletes. Maria aims to compete against her sister, Gabi (Gabz), who has a bionic leg. To do so, she must ally with a group of criminals plotting to start a revolution in the city.

"All over the place" is perhaps one way to describe this Brazilian movie. It's one of those films where even after it finishes, you still don't know how to feel about it. In fact, I still have no idea what the goal of the movie was. I wouldn't say that it's horrible as it does put some effort into a setting and premise, but the nonsensical plot and flawed execution left a lot to be desired.

A scene from Bionic. 

Maria, the main character, has a motive for her actions. She's not on the best terms with her sister and feels her natural athleticism is overshadowed by her and other athletes. Maria's drive to prove her worth is initially inspiring and tragic, however, as the story progresses, I gradually found myself caring less about her struggle. This is due to the sudden, nonsensical shifts in the movie's focus, including a key event that changes her involvement with the criminals she works with.

There's little else to invest in. The family drama adds a layer to the plot, especially the antagonism between Maria and her sister. However, despite the backstories, the overall plot still feels half-baked. It feels like there should have been more story-wise, but for some reason, there isn't. The other characters and pacing are dull and forgettable. There are many things going on at once that I was constantly confused about what the movie was trying to focus on. The pacing was erratic, making it difficult to stay engaged. One moment it seems to be about Maria trying to fulfil her dream, and then it suddenly shifts to random thugs planning to change the world.

The main concept of Bionic is interesting as it shows how society might respond to mechanical enhancements in the future. However, it falls short in execution. The actual science behind the bionic limbs is never explained. For instance, it's unclear how someone is supposed to run track and field or do a high jump with one bionic leg. The movie never addresses these details, which is quite odd.

The film is set in 2035, which isn't far off. Yet, everything is way too advanced, with fancy phones, electronic billboards and holograms flying around. It almost feels like watching Back To The Future Part II all over again which imagined 2015 to have flying cars. I appreciate how the movie combines futuristic elements with the gritty realism of the city it takes place in. Unfortunately, the same effort wasn't put into explaining the lore behind this world. The only background information provided is a brief mention of a resistance movement against bionics in 2035, which feels ridiculous considering how close that year is.

The action scenes in Bionic are entertaining enough to provide a break from the monotonous plot. But deflating is the word that comes to mind when watching this movie. Not only is it boring and silly, but it also squanders a lot of potential. It had the opportunity to address themes of transhumanism and its potential negative impacts on society. Instead, it remains a superficial fantasy, and not even a fun one.

Bionic is a disappointing sci-fi drama that could have been much more than the sum of its parts but falls short in all aspects. It also fails to redeem itself with its convoluted narrative and lazy storytelling.

  • Bionic
  • Starring Jessica Córes, Bibi Flor, Emilly Nayara
  • Directed by Afonso Poyart
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