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Alex TAU

Mainly proposing this guy because he's been on my planned list for roughly a year and a half now...

The Work

TAU is a 2018 sci-fi thriller film released by Netflix following a woman trapped in the mansion of a mad scientist perfecting an AI system. As the days pass, she learns that the AI is just as much of a prisoner as her.

The Candidate

Thomas Alexander "Alex" Upton is a master inventor, residing within a luxurious mansion on a hilltop. Inside is his own AI home security system, a system called TAU (named after his initials), consisting of the main computer, a dozen small cleanup drones, and a large security droid called ARES. If TAU is a success, Alex will earn a billion dollars based on a contract.

To perfect TAU, Alex purposely isolates him from the outside world, believing exposure would cause variations to his behavior. When TAU learns something Alex dislikes, Alex forcefully erases some of his coded memory, something TAU finds extremely painful. Instead, as a way to increase TAU's intelligence, Alex grabs people off the streets and keeps them hostage within his house and forced to complete logic puzzles, using an electric implant to connect their brains to TAU's network. Once all of their objectives are complete, Alex removes the implant, causing their neural networks to cease function. Based on the files he keeps lying around, he's already had 11 people experimented on and terminated.

Street smart girl Julia becomes the most recent subject captive, experimented with psychological torture by Alex reading her memories through her brain. With the help of two other subjects captured before her, they escape only for Alex to send ARES after them. It kills the two tagalongs but Alex decides to keep Julia alive, and allows her to move about in the mansion. Don't take this as honorability as he's only wanting her to perform tasks to increase TAU's knowledge, allowing him to use physical violence whenever she attempts to break out.

During the days while Alex is at work prompting his project contractors to expand the deadline until after he extracts Julia's implant, Julia teaches TAU about the outside world, bargaining a deal to show him the outside world if he helps her escape. Then Alex comes home and promptly deletes the new memories, which Julia takes advantage of as ARES goes offline whenever his code is being erased. Using Alex's neat freak obsession to distract him with a smudge on his glass table, she attempts to attack him with a knife. A fight breaks out, ending with Alex strangling Julia. TAU demands Alex to stop or he will summon ARES. Seeing this, Alex orders TAU to use ARES to knock out Julia or risk a complete reboot, which TAU reluctantly agrees to do.

Tying up Julia to a statue in the mansion foyer, Alex orders TAU to ensure Julia does not leave her spot. After telling TAU he is a living being, TAU frees Julia, which angers Alex. Since TAU refuses Alex's questions for where Julia ran off to, he uses his remote to erase all of TAU's memories, causing TAU to scream in pain, beckoning him to stop. Unable to listen to him suffer, Julia returns to stop Alex, but arrives too late as TAU's memories were completely reworked and ARES knocks her out again.

Alex drags Julia down to his basement lab to prepare to remove her implant, for she already knew too much. Fortunately, Julia activates a drone that Alex disconnected before resetting TAU's memory (which somehow makes it keep his old memories of Julia) and has it cut her restraints. Just before Alex could deal a lethal dose, Julia breaks free of her chair and uses a bone saw to cut off Alex's arm. Avoiding the pursuing ARES, she enters Alex's bedroom and uses his severed hand to activate a self-destruction mechanism. Upon reaching the front entrance, Alex corners her, only to be blasted by the explosion. Critically wounded, Alex beckons Julia to help him only to be crushed by the collapsing ceiling. Too bad the scene is ruined by him doing the frickin' Wilhelm Scream.

The Factors

Not really. He's a sociopathic serial killer who conducted psychological torture on 11 people to perfect his AI computer, killing them once they become obsolete. All for a contract that will make him a billion dollars richer. He views TAU as his "child", but yet shows absolutely no sympathy whenever he tortures him simply for learning something that he dislikes. He's aware of the empathy and pain TAU experiences, yet doesn't show any reason to synthesize for him.

While he does warm up to Julia imprisoned in his house, giving her proper food and clothes, he's still only using her as a living "battery of knowledge" for TAU, still planning to execute her once her objectives are cleared. He even orders TAU to use physical violence if Julia ever attempts to escape.

The Standards

TAU is pure neutral due to his directive in following Alex's orders without any true knowledge of right and wrong, and ARES is a mindless killer bot following its programming.

The Verdict

Check.

Yes: 6
No: 0
Undecided: 0
Final Score: +6
Consensus: Pure Evil

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