'Atlas' review: JLo's sci-fi flick not as bad as critics say 2
Jennifer Lopez in 'Atlas.' Netflix Philippines

'Atlas' review: JLo's sci-fi flick not as bad as critics say

To her credit, Jennifer Lopez was really fully invested in making Atlas her own.
Fred Hawson | May 28 2024

Twenty-eight years ago, an AI named Harlan (Simu Liu) went rogue and led a massive AI rebellion which left 3 million humans dead. The International Coalition of Nations managed to force him to escape into outer space in order to avoid captivity. While on exile somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy, Harlan spent his time hatching a complicated plot that would ultimately destroy the human race, against whom he carried a massive grudge.

Atlas Shepherd (Jennifer Lopez) was a data analyst who was obsessed with capturing Harlan. Atlas had a deep distrust for anything AI, particularly wary against neural links which allowed the AI access into the brain of the person it was linked with. When Harlan's agent Casca Decius (Abraham Popoola) was captured on Earth, Atlas was able to figure out where Harlan was, and was determined to go along with the rangers sent to capture him.

When the lead character had a name like Atlas, one can't help but suspect that the original hero was supposed to be male, but gender-swapped to accommodate a superstar producer like Jennifer Lopez to play him. To her credit, she was really fully invested in making Atlas her own. Although at the start, Lopez's Atlas was quite the annoying whining brat even as her very life relied on cooperating with a mech suit AI named Smith (Gregory James Cohan).

However, as Atlas eventually unloaded her emotional baggage to Smith, Lopez does succeed to win the viewer over to side with her, no matter they felt about her at the start. That scene was not easy to do since Lopez was mostly acting by herself while talking to a disembodied voice, and Lopez does pull it off. There was also a lot of wit and sarcasm between Atlas and Smith, and their tongue-in-cheek interaction was quite humorous.

Director Brad Peyton was best known for directing three of Dwayne Johnson action flicks "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" (2012), "San Andreas" (2015), and "Rampage" (2018). For "Atlas," it looked like Netflix gave him a generous budget to work on the special visual effects to create the futuristic milieu where this story takes place. The battle sequences may look quite cartoonish like video games, but they were still entertaining to watch.