September 28, 2013

There’s a lot that can be done with the idea of computerized attempts to destroy the world, when you consider how digitally connected everything is today. Heck, I was frightened by the idea back in 1988 when Probe had a rogue AI messing with elevators and traffic lights. Delete, the latest in the series of disaster miniseries, spins the idea out into three hours of tense people, particularly military, talking about the problem.

I had thought this entry would be about a hacker war, which was one of the two reasons I was curious to see it (the other: Seth Green), but it turns out, no, the hackers are hacktivists, trying to make political points while naming themselves after Lords of Hell. So Green plays “Lucifer”, who doesn’t appear until a third of the way through the second half. (Don’t bother with this if he’s your main reason.)

Also recognizable to me: Matt Frewer as a government official and Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal) as a military leader. The two main characters aren’t familiar to me, though, and unfortunately, they’re not interesting enough to carry the show. Erin Karpluk (Life Unexpected) plays a young reporter who wants the big stories but thinks wearing a strapless dress to the office is a professional choice. Her hacker source is played by Keir Gilchrist (United States of Tara).

The military is after the hackers because an Iranian nuclear facility is almost sent into meltdown and a missile test is redirected to land in a California suburb. They’re convinced these acts were done by “cybercriminals”, although it’s really a vengeful artificial intelligence (which we don’t learn until 45 minutes in, but that plot twist is all over the press and marketing). Real tech geeks will find much of what happens, from the AI remotely turning on cellphones to imitating the voices of loved ones, silly.

This quickly degenerates into a sub-standard thriller. There’s an assassination, having to break into a secure facility, a remotely hijacked car chase, and other exaggerated attempted murders. Bellows’ daughter is also threatened, because that’s what a cute blonde child is good for in these types of stories. (Quite the advanced AI, though, if it’s already into blackmail.) Without a more visible threat — the previous miniseries had volcanoes and exploding solar activity — Delete also becomes visually generic. Which is probably why the subplot involving missile testing exists, so there’s something more obviously dangerous to worry about. (The studio provided a review copy.)

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