The future of humanity is at stake in the latest Korean film Jung_E, a thrilling sci-fi tale about how society will adapt to living alongside AI.
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, known for offering a fresh take on the zombie genre with 2016's Train to Busan, this new film introduces a host of fascinating ideas about class and technology, along with some high-octane action sequences.
But it's the film's extremely personal take on human and AI futures that truly sets it apart.
In this dystopian future, humanity has been forced to migrate to shelters in space due to extreme climate change. As always, the people have split into factions and are locked in a civil war.
The few people remaining on Earth spend their time building weapons for the warring countries in space, turning the planet into an industrial slum.
The story is told from the perspective of a terminally ill researcher, Yun Seo-hyun, who is obsessed with creating the perfect AI soldier to end the war. But her project is based on a real person, her own mother, Yun Jung-yi, a celebrated war hero who has been in a coma for the last 35 years.
The most striking aspect of Jung_E is its depiction of AI in everyday life, creating a unique class system. The fate of people’s minds after their deaths totally depends on their wealth.
The rich can essentially live forever, placing their minds in synthetic bodies with all the rights of a human. The middle class can also live on, but at a cost of fewer rights and consenting to share brain data with the government for research.
And for those who can't afford it, there's a free option, but it means their brains are up for sale to anyone who wants the data. Struggling to afford basic human rights and control of one's own mind in a dystopian world makes this futuristic society look sinister as well.
As the story unfolds, the world-building takes a backseat to the family story at the movie's core. The main character's quest to connect with her mother through technology is heartbreaking.
The film is a powerful exploration of the human desire for connection and the lengths we will go to achieve it.
With a talented cast led by the late Kang Soo-yeon in her final on-screen performance and a seasoned Yeon Sang-ho’s direction, Jung_E is a must-watch for fans of sci-fi and those looking for a thought-provoking film that will leave a lasting impact.