Frank (Langella) is an antiquated cat burglar in a near future whose memory is beginning to fail him; indeed he stealthily breaks into a house only to realise that it is his own. Tired of regularly driving miles to tend to him, Frank’s son, Hunter (James Marsden), decides to provide him with some live-in help. This comes in the manufactured form of a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), about which Frank is less than happy but whom he cannot switch off. When he learns that his new companion can be easily manipulated, the two begin to plan a series of heists together; it may see an improvement in Frank’s cognitive health, but looks destined to land them in hot water.Build around a thoroughly enjoyable and affecting turn from Langella as the forgetful Frank, the film is at first glance a moving caper with a neat twist. Accomplished support is provided by Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon, and Sarsgaard’s impassive tones, and the film flies by with comedy punctuating a thoughtful blooming friendship. That relationship is also astutely built on some intriguing observations about memory, and the notion of losing them is reflected in an advancing digital world. Frank, of course, is struggling to recall things and a technological pal that cannot forget seems ideal. It also raises some interesting questions, however, about the role reminiscence plays in shaping our identity and whether this is lost if our power of recollection is.
Don’t let that suggest, though, that the film is bogged down on Sci-Fi philosophising. These more cerebral elements are beautifully woven into a funny and entertaining comedy-drama about a curmudgeonly old thief and his bothersome housekeeper robot. With it hitting cinemas on Friday 8 March 2013, I would highly recommend you seek it out.