There’s a cool little science fiction flick called Robot & Frank currently in limited release around the country. “Frank” is Frank Langella, a retired jewel thief who receives a robotic butler as a gift from his son. While the well-meaning son is just trying to make his father’s twilight years easier, Frank has other ideas for the ‘bot. He decides to pull one last heist, with the robot as his partner.
We picked Robot & Frank as our science fiction pick of the week, and it got us thinking. What if you didn’t stop with just one robot assistant? What if you decided to take a page from Ocean’s 11‘s Danny Ocean and form an entire team of artificial criminal badasses to, say, rob a casino? The only question is, who should we recruit for “Asimov’s Eleven?”
Bender Bending Rodriguez (Futurama)
Probably the easiest recruit on the entire team. Being a bending robot, Bender will come in handy if we need any bars moved out of our way. He is also a handy wild card, since he seems to have the ability to pull whatever he needs at the time out of his chest cavity. Need a couple of disguises? Check inside Bender. Forgot to bring your copy of the target building’s floor plans? Check inside Bender. He’s also as devious as any organic crook, so he’ll probably bring plenty of handy suggestions, and he even has contacts inside the Robot Mafia that could be useful.
Recruitment Strategy: Ask him, “Hey, you want to go help rob a casino?” You do want to keep a close eye on him, though, because there’s about a 99% chance he’s going to try and ditch the rest of the team and make off the loot as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Maybe we can borrow a restraining bolt from…
R2-D2 (Star Wars)
R2’s uses should be obvious. He’s the hacker and safe cracker. He can link in and fry any security systems, shut off cameras, open doors, even shut down the odd garbage compactor should we find ourselves trapped in one. Plus, nobody ever really pays attention to astromech droids, so he can easily get into places the rest of us can’t. And if he gets caught, he can just pretend he’s got a bad motivator or something. If he insists on bringing 3PO along, we can use him as a distraction where needed, or — even more satisfactorily — leave him behind as the patsy while the rest of us escape.
Recruitment Strategy: R2 has proven that he’s steadfastly loyal and willing to go to any lengths to accomplish his mission. I figure we’ll just hire an out-of-work local actress to play the part of a desperate princess who needs him to recover some valuable item for the Republic. The only thing is, said valuable item is locked up in this casino vault…
Marvin the Paranoid Android (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Any good heist is going to need some distractions, something to keep the staff’s eyes where we want them and off of the rest of us. Enter Marvin. Marvin likes to talk, see, and he will seize upon any excuse to bemoan the sorry state of the universe, and most especially of his lot in life. Just point him toward the front desk and let him work his magic. Before you know it upper management will come out to try and shut Marvin the hell up and get him away from other customers, removing one more obstacle between us and the vault. Plus, he may actually talk some of the staff into committing suicide, which will be an even more effective distraction.
Recruitment Strategy: Just tell him he’s doing the job whether he wants to or not, and that we’re probably going to leave him behind to get pinched. That’ll give him entirely new array of things to complain about.
Pris (Blade Runner) & Gigolo Joe (A.I.)
Pris and Gigolo Joe are a pair of walking eyeball magnets. Any guards that aren’t drawn to Marvin’s melodramatic monologue can be distracted by Pris and/or Joe. They were both built to be sexbots, so they’re more than capable of keeping a guard’s eyes (and thoughts) on them while we do our business. Between the two of them, we should have any variables of gender and orientation covered. And hey, if the flirting doesn’t work, Pris can always begin an impromptu gymnastics demonstration as a distraction. Alternatively, we can have Pris or Joe romance a lonely casino worker during our prep for the robbery, getting Mr. Lonelyhearts to spill the beans about guard schedules, patrol routes, and when the vault is emptied.
Recruitment Strategy: Money. Although with Pris you might have to promise to help her out with that whole “I want more life” thing. Just make sure the job is finished before she begins to suspect that you were bluffing. And under no circumstances let her bring along her peroxide-blonde boyfriend. That guy’s way too unpredictable.
Every good heist needs an inside man, and Bishop is perfect. He doesn’t mind tight spaces if you need somebody to climb around some air vents. He’s good at thinking on his feet, even when his feet have been ripped off by a pissed-off xenomoph. And he can pass as human so long as he doesn’t get a paper cut. Also, make him promise not to do the knife trick on anyone, because that’s just going to raise suspicions. Get Bishop hired on as a janitor or some other blue-collar job that lets him wander around the various parts of the casino without raising suspicions.
Recruitment Strategy: If we’ve learned anything from the Alien franchise, it’s that you usually don’t want to trust an android. Bishop, however, has been proven to be a decent and loyal fellow. So we’re probably going to have to reprogram that sucker, or just convince him that the heist is for the greater good, whatever that means.
Jesse Pinkman’s Roomba (Breaking Bad)
Once Bishop is working inside the casino, he’ll be perfectly positioned to set loose our reconnaissance droid: Jesse’s Pinkman’s Roomba. Now, you may not think that a robotic vacuum cleaner is going to be any help when it comes to a casino robbery, but you’re just not being devious enough. With a few modifications, Roomba could be our eyes inside the casino, able to scope out the layout and weaknesses even better than Bishop, since Roomba can get into places too small for the android. Plus, who’s going to be suspicious of a robot vacuum cleaner? Just make sure to empty him before you deploy him. That’s just common courtesy. (And a tip of the hat to Den Shewman and Nick Venable for the Roomba suggestion.)
Recruitment Strategy: He’s already working for a powerful meth dealer, so he shouldn’t take too much convincing. Plus, you can swipe him and replace him with a different store-bought Roomba and Pinkman probably won’t notice for, like, six weeks or so.
Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet)
One of the advantages of using robots for a heist is that you can bring in some serious artificial muscle. I don’t mean for beating people up, I mean for lifting heavy things. Why clean out a couple of vault deposit boxes when you can bring in Robby and systematically clean out the whole damn thing? As seen in Forbidden Planet, Robby may not look like much but he can lift ridiculous amounts of weight. As long as we keep security distracted, he can carry the entire contents of the vault out to our getaway vehicle (see below).
Recruitment Strategy: Robby is programmed to follow Asimov’s Laws and not hurt humans, but I’m pretty sure Asimov’s Laws don’t say anything about grand larceny. Just tell him what to do, keep him clear of any encounters with security, and we’ll be fine.
HK-47 (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
There’s always a chance that things will go bad and turn violent. If that’s the case, we’ve got the advantage that the robotic crew is a lot more durable than a flesh-and-blood team. Still, we need a contingency plan for if things go south, and that contingency plan is named HK-47. A bloodthirsty assassin droid with a bleak sense of humor, he’s always looking for any excuse to vaporize somebody, and he’s more than capable enough to back up those threats. If it looks like we’re about to get caught, we’ll give HK the greenlight and haul ass to our getaway vehicle while the droid unleashes hell on a casino full of hapless organic “meatbags.” Sure, we don’t really want to hurt anybody, but if it’s us or them, it’s always gonna be us, baby.
Recruitment Strategy: Offer him the possible chance to unleash hell on a casino full of hapless organic “meatbags.” HK’s like Bender; he’s not going to be a hard sell.
Optimus Prime (Transformers)
Meet the getaway driver. Who is also, coincidentally, the getaway vehicle. In truck form, he’s got plenty of room in the trailer to load up our haul and any of us who actually make it out of the casino alive and unperforated. We’ll also be using the old-school Optimus, not the Michael Bay version with the ridiculous paint job. If we wanted flash on this job, we’d hire Jet freakin’ Jaguar. The original, simple red and blue design will be nicely low key and blend in perfectly once we hit one of the freeways. And hey, if things go completely pear-shaped and we need more firepower during our getaway, he’s got that snazzy arm cannon.
Recruitment Strategy: This one’s tricky, ’cause Prime has always been insufferably upright and moral. I’m thinking we promise him some exclusive information about the Decepticons that could turn the tide of their old rivalry. Once we make it back to the hide-out, we’ll give Prime directions to where we hid “the intel.” What he’ll actually find is that EMP device we borrowed from Danny Ocean. Pop that sucker and Prime will be down for the count long enough for us to be halfway to Cozumel and a cushy retirement.
The Iron Giant (The Iron Giant)
I know, it doesn’t make sense, does it? How the hell is a giant freakin’ robot going to factor into a casino heist that’s supposed to keep things low key and subtle? Well, he’s a our weapon of last resort. Not literally, because he’s got that whole “I don’t want to be a gun” thing going on. But if we need a big distraction, something extravagant to really clear the deck, we have I.G. start strolling down the Vegas strip, kicking cars around and screaming “KILL ALL HUMANS.” I guarantee you, nobody will be looking in our direction if there’s a giant robot climbing the Luxor and swatting at that stupid spotlight. And hey, if the military charges in and activates his “death machine” mode, it’ll be that much easier for us to escape during the commotion.
Recruitment Strategy: Like Prime and R2, the Iron Giant is kind of a stick in the mud when it comes to flexible morality. So we’re going to have to send HK-47 to kidnap that Hogarth kid. Keep him tied up somewhere off-site and I’m betting I.G. will do exactly what we tell him to. I mean, we already know he’d take a nuke in the face for the kid…
Alright, people. That’s our team. We meet back here tomorrow at 0600 and get started. Don’t forget to make sure you’re well oiled and fully charged, ’cause I don’t want any of you idiots running out of juice halfway through the heist. Let’s go.