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Jennifer Lopez stars in this sci-fi thriller in which artificial intelligence has taken a deadly turn

Jennifer Lopez earned her action-hero cred in last year’s Netflix thriller The Mother, and now she’s building on that experience with another high-octane feature with a sci-fi twist.

In Atlas, she plays Atlas Shepherd, a government analyst who embarks on a mission to travel to a distant world on a quest to take down a renegade robot who played a key role in her painful past.

“Atlas is someone who has basically shut out the world around her,” Lopez explained in an interview with Netflix’s Tudum. “She doesn’t trust anybody and doesn’t want anything to do with A.I.”

Atlas on Netflix. Pictured: Simu Liu plays renegade robot Harlan, described as an “A.I. terrorist.”
Ana Carballosa/Netflix

On her mission, Atlas is equipped with a heavily armoured, high-tech robotic suit (think Tony Stark’s Iron Man armour, but bigger) that becomes an extension of herself thanks to technological advances in artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, a past trauma, and the robot’s role in it, has left her deeply distrustful of all things A.I. In order to survive, she must confront her fears of A.I. by forcing herself to set aside her fears and ally herself with it.

In its synopsis of the film, Netflix explains that the mother of Lopez’s character was a scientist whose groundbreaking work in A.I. ushered the world into a new era of technological advancement. Nearly 30 years after that scientific breakthrough, Atlas — now a counterterrorism analyst working for the International Coalition of Nations (ICN) — is assigned a mission to face off against her “brother,” Harlan, the A.I. terrorist who led a robot revolution that nearly destroyed humanity, played by Canada’s own Simu Liu.

Atlas on Netflix. Pictured: Sterling K. Brown is Colonel Banks, Atlas’ commanding officer.
Ana Carballosa/Netflix

“He was created by a brilliant scientist to be a protector of mankind, but unfortunately, you know how some things go,” Liu joked. “I basically built Harlan from all of my favourite movies and TV shows that have ever featured artificial lifeforms, like Michael Fassbender in Prometheus, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and so many more,” he added.

Atlas also stars Sterling K. Brown as Atlas’ commanding officer, Colonel Banks. “Banks works inside these arc suits which you have to meld with through a neurosync so that you’re half-machine, half-man — something greater than the sum of its parts,” Brown told Tudum. “There’s something very interesting about the idea that these two things are integrating, but are not codependent. They’re interdependent, so there’s a healthful component to that that I think would be intriguing for sci-fi fans.”

“The heart of Atlas is really about trust and how difficult it is to trust people,” director Brad Peyton told Tudum. “Atlas is told through the lens of a woman who’s learning to trust after undergoing a trauma that’s upended her life. It’s a reminder of how we have to have deep, meaningful relationships in our lives, in one way, shape, or form. That you can’t do everything by yourself; you have to choose to trust people at a certain point and let them in.”

According to Lopez, it was that aspect of the film that really appealed to her. “I loved that this is a big sci-fi action movie, but at its core, it’s a story of friendship — and a love story, in a way,” she said. “I always see everything as a love story, but this is a different kind of love between two beings who connect in disastrous circumstances, and teach each other how to be more human.”

Atlas begins streaming on Friday, May 24 on Netflix

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