Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Content Caution



In Theaters


Home Release Date




Bob Hoose

Movie Review

Atlas Shepherd is a gifted analyst for the International Coalition of Nations (ICN). She’s prickly, untrusting and very difficult to get along with. But she’s respected for her experience and skills. And well she should be. After all, the problem that the ICN was created to fight all started, in a way, with her.

Back when Atlas was just a girl, her mother, Val Shepherd, was a groundbreaking scientist who championed the development of neural links, taking human/AI interaction to new heights.

Val created “Harlan,” a truly sentient robotic man. Atlas was, in a sense, raised alongside Harlan as a sibling. There were servant robots before, but Harlan was something no one had ever dreamed of.  

However, that robotic dream became a nightmare. Atlas was part of a mishap that transformed Harlan into what amounted to the first AI terrorist. He killed Val Shepherd … and millions of others. He raised up an army of AI fighters and used his strategic brilliance to spread terror around the globe

The ICN was created to deal with that terror. They were, in fact, so effective that Harlan was forced to flee Earth. He’s been hiding somewhere in space for the last 28 years.

In all that time, Atlas Shepherd has been searching. She’s helped the ICN develop Earth safety measures. She’s sought out clues to the robot’s whereabouts. And she’s devised scenarios to deal with his potential moves. Harlan is still the greatest threat that mankind has ever faced. And he promised to come back and finish what he started. He will be back.

Out of the blue, one of Harlan’s robotic lieutenants shows up on Earth. Was he scouting for a new attack? After a great battle, the robot is captured. Atlas outfoxes the AI bot and discovers Harlan’s current location: the unexplored and generally uninhabitable planet GR-39.

This could be the break that the ICN has been looking for. It could also be … a trap. But whatever it is, the ICN rangers and their neural linked robotic ARC suits are convinced they’re up for the task.

Atlas isn’t so sure.

But she’s worked so long for this moment that she won’t be left behind. She’ll be there and face this AI demon, win or lose.

Positive Elements

Atlas is driven by a desire to protect others (albeit with an unspoken desire for revenge, too). She also shoulders a burden of guilt for the terrible harm she indirectly caused. But someone later assures her that she can’t be held accountable for a childhood mistake.

A man sacrifices his life to give Atlas a chance at escaping danger. When others turn their backs on Atlas because of her prickly nature, an ICN officer, General Boothe, has her back and supports her. She later gratefully thanks him for his friendship.

Spiritual Elements

Atlas was only a young girl when she made a choice (driven by desire for her mom’s attention) that caused Harlan to become evil. The event is presented as almost a transferal of her human sinful nature or awareness—Harlan taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, if you will.

Expanding on that concept, Harlan rises up against his creator. He later says that he desires to destroy mankind as a means to save it. “Since humans continue to threaten every other species as well as their home planet, it’s only a matter of time before they destroy themselves,” he declares.

So, in a twisted bit of religious and environmental logic, he believes that the remnants of humanity will rise again and be at peace with the world around them.

Atlas and an AI program debate what constitutes “life.” For instance, the program, named Smith, states that he thinks that everything has a soul. “You can’t find it in your code,” Atlas retorts. “Not any more than you can find it in yours,” the AI responds. “But I have faith that it is there.”

Early on, Atlas talks to some ICN Rangers and encourages them not to trust their AI-driven ARC suits. The Colonel in charge shuts her down and tells her it isn’t time for any “come-to-Jesus doomsday scenarios.”

Sexual Content

Early on, we see a female-shaped robot on a repair line. The bot’s naked torso is blurred out. Atlas also has a conversation with a AI-driven robotic ARC suit that declares that its gender pronouns are “she, her.”

Violent Content

There’s quite a bit of explosive violence on tap here. We see images of humans and AI battling in city streets, for instance, vehicles exploding and being riddled with large caliber blasts. A powerful AI takes on a dozen police officers shooting them and smashing them headfirst into hallway walls. It’s eventually taken down by a huge electric blast.

Similar battles take place in and around GR-39. Rangers in ARC suits are fired upon by drones as they fall from the sky, and the combat is frantic and explosively destructive. On the ground, Rangers also take on AI robots. We see the aftereffects of the carnage: bloody human bodies lying in shattered ARC suits.

A large ship gets hit with missile fire, and people inside are bashed and battered around by internal explosions. Eventually the ship itself explodes in a massive eruption.

Atlas is thrust into an ARC suit that she doesn’t know how to use. She shot at, riddled with gun fire and subject to high falls and crashes. In the course of all these attacks and falls, she is left bloody from a head wound and suffers a compound fracture of her leg (with a protruding bone). The ARC suit uses internal medical mechanisms to patch her up and reset the bone, while Atlas screams through the painful, lightly bloody procedure.

Atlas and her AI ARC battle a number of different AIs equipped with guns and blades. One powerful unit uses its flaming blade to hack away limbs and large chunks of the suit. Some AI opponents are hit with a large bomb that literally obliterates them. Two different people are strapped to tables, and a sharp needle probe is stuck into their eye. (In one case the camera angle obscures the probe’s entry, in the other the camera cuts away just as the needle touches.)

We’re told that in the course of Harlan’s terrorist activities on Earth at least 4 million people were killed. Humanlike AI robot heads are crushed, impaled and sizzled with electric blasts. In some cases, eyes are blown out or fall out of their sockets. Etc.

Crude or Profane Language

There are three f-words (two spoken, one written) and more than a dozen s-words in the dialogue. Those are joined by multiple uses of “d–n” and “b–ch.” God’s and Jesus’ names are misused a total of 14 times (“God” blended with “d–n” on half of those).

Drug and Alcohol Content

Atlas’ ARC suit injects her with pain medication and sprays her open wound with something else. Atlas is warned about her constant overconsumption of coffee.

Other Negative Elements



The movie Atlas has an interesting sci-fi premise. And star Jennifer Lopez—who spends much of the movie by herself in an ARC suit cockpit—does a solid job of conveying the tension and emotion of the film. Atlas also asks provocative questions about the wisdom of embracing the future of AI—painting a picture of the created rising against its creator with something of a twisted religious fervor.

That said, the film feels like it’s missing a few nuts and bolts in strategic places. Or maybe its circuit diagram should have been checked once or twice more: The logic of the tale doesn’t always line up. The connection between the hero and the villain feels paper thin and given short shrift.

Perhaps most importantly, some of the stab-an-eyeball violence and profane language here will likely make this pic a nonstarter for family audiences.

The Plugged In Show logo
Elevate family time with our parent-friendly entertainment reviews! The Plugged In Podcast has in-depth conversations on the latest movies, video games, social media and more.
Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.