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 A talented cast and technical achievement aside, “Simulant” fails to replicate the magic of the films and stories it was heavily inspired by.

On paper, Simulant has a lot going for it, starting with a stellar cast that includes Jordana Brewster from the Fast & Furious franchise, Simu Liu from Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Sam Worthington from the television series Manhunt and the blockbuster films Avatar and Avatar: Way of the Water, and Robbie Arnell (who has starred in television series like The Flash and Upload but may be best known to horror fans as Max in The Babysitter — and its sequel — and Chris Redfield in Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City).

Then there’s the concept, which is both the film’s greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Billed as an ambitious sci-fi film that grapples with existential themes, the plot revolves around a futuristic society where humanoid simulants, aka replicants, have become fully integrated into society and have become dangerously advanced to the point where their self-awareness and autonomy are posing a threat to society. To curtail that threat, an enforcement agency is tasked with hunting down and eliminating rogue simulants.

If you’re a fan of speculative sci-fi literature and cinema, that no doubt sounds conspicuously familiar, and we’ll get to that elephant in the room shortly.

Simulant converges on three storylines.

The first revolves around a ridiculously wealthy and almost criminally beautiful young couple, Evan (Amell) and Faye (Brewster). She’s an artist, and it’s unclear what, if anything, he does for a living.

We get almost no time with the couple before a devastating car crash seems to upend their marital bliss. Their pre-crash relationship is established via quick vignettes of their leisurely and luxurious lifestyle, filled with artistic endeavors and passionate lovemaking meant to convey a sense of idyllic perfection.

These first couple of minutes are interspersed with some eerie images of mega-corporation Nexxera against an ominous score.

Nexxera is the company responsible for rapidly advancing simulants, robots at first designed to supplement human labor and now evolved to the point where they have become companions and lovers, virtually indistinguishable from humans. Evan and Faye own an early iteration of the simulants, a more robotic-looking woman who serves as their live-in maid.

A voiceover quickly sets the stage for a world where simulants must obey four key precepts ripped almost entirely from Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. The robots must not cause harm to any human, they must not break the law, they must not modify themselves or any other simulant, and they must obey all orders from their human master.

Evan can’t remember anything about the immediate aftermath of the accident, and Faye refuses to talk about what happened. He isn’t himself, and he keeps having disturbing dreams. Meanwhile, Faye seems much more distant.

As the couple is grappling with the chasm in their marriage, we meet Detective Aaron Kessler (Worthington). He’s looking into a case involving a highly advanced seventh-generation simulant named Esmé (Alicia Sanz), who has broken her programming directives and gone offline for the past three years.

He tracks her down to an apartment building, but she handily disarms him and escapes into the city. A languid chase ensues, and Kessler is finally able to capture the simulant after using an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) gun to disable all electronics temporarily.

While investigating Esmé’s apartment, Kessler encounters Casey Rosen (Liu), a man who claims to be a neighbor who knows Esmé casually but didn’t realize she was a simulant.

It doesn’t take long, however, for Kessler to learn that Casey is more than just a neighbor. Back at the lab, a tech has discovered that someone has hacked Esmé’s operating system and altered her code, giving her complete autonomy. While extrapolating her memories, Kessler and the lab technician find evidence of the intimate relationship between Esmé and Casey, and Kessler suspects Casey knows a lot more than he revealed.

Given that it happens so early in the film and is heavily telegraphed in the film and the film’s marketing, it’s not much of a spoiler to reveal what happens next.

At about the 25-minute mark, director April Mullen and screenwriter Ryan Christopher Churchill opt to avoid any compelling mystery and reveal that Evan is a simulant.

As soon as the technology became available, Faye had a simulant created for her and Evan, which she stored in a secret room in the house. After Evan’s death in the car crash, she had his model activated and loaded with Evan’s memories so he’d be convinced he was human. Faye is now concerned that she made a mistake and should have let her husband go rather than try to replace him with an all-too-real but not quite-right replica.

She calls the manufacturer Nexxera for assistance, and they send over a sim expert: none other than Casey Rosen. Casey offers for Evan to stay in an apartment at his building so he can keep an eye on him until Faye decides whether or not to deactivate him permanently.

Evan begs Faye not to abandon him, but she insists she needs her space and time to think. Soon, Casey and Evan develop a friendship, and Casey offers to free Evan from the restraints of his programming and win back the love of his wife.

Meanwhile, we discover why Kessler is so hostile towards simulants, having lost a child due to the neglect of a simulant babysitter. That could pack an emotional punch if it were delivered with any gravitas or if we spent any time developing Kessler and showing him as a doting dad. As it stands, it’s up to the viewer to fill in all the gaps and rely solely on basic human empathy to care at all about Kessler’s loss.

From there, it all progresses in a pretty predictable way, without much dramatic tension to keep things interesting.

There’s no denying that Mullen has assembled some impressive talent for her production. But the material fails to deliver, causing the performances to feel lackluster through no fault of the committed cast.

Everyone does what they can, but there’s nothing here that feels particularly elevated or investing. The focus on making this an ensemble film and giving equal attention to every character and plotline is admirable, but it results in everyone feeling underdeveloped. The editing is frenetic, cutting rapidly between scenes without feeling truly cohesive. That’s a shame because some great scenes could have made a much bigger impact had more time been spent on them.

I especially loved Esmé heartbreaking story as an android that’s developed the capacity for love and empathy. Sanz is convincing and makes us care about her plight. I wish we had gotten more of this dynamic between her and the cynical detective blinded by grief.

If you read many reviews of Simulant, the biggest complaint you’ll come across is how derivative it feels.