“Chappie, if you want to be in the gang you have to be cool, like daddy.” Those are the first words you hear in this new clip for Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming robot drama Chappie. When you think of a combination of South African street gangsters and artificially intelligent automatons, you don’t necessarily think of a strong familial connection, but the more we see from the film, the more it looks like that’s what we get. You also learn important lessons, like that real gangsters use throwing stars.
In the film, a couple of hoods—played by zef duo Die Antwoord—steal a law enforcement robot in the hopes of using it to further their criminal enterprise, only they get much more than they bargained for. This particular former-robo-cop is a new breed, thanks to Dev Patel’s Deon character, a robot that has the ability to think for itself. An innocent, child-like presence, Chappie (played by frequent Blomkamp collaborator Sharlto Copley) bonds with his pseudo parents—Ninja, who you see in this clip, and Yolandi Vi$$er, who you only hear on the soundtrack.
Like any good parent, Ninja teaches his kickass metal son how to be a true gangster. This includes lessons on how to walk cool, talk cool, and use awesome ninja weapons, which are cool. While it’s funny and amusing, this quick peek also drives home the connection Chappie forms with his human counterparts, and how, even though he’s a robot, they view him as something more, interacting with him as if he’s a person, not just a thing.
This humanity looks to provide the emotional core of the film. While some can look at this collection of parts and metal and see something alive, others will see a monster, a threat, something to be feared, attacked and destroyed. That’s going to make Chappie very sad, and nothing gets me like a sad robot.
Written by Blomkamp and his wife, Terri Tatchell, and produced by Simon Kinberg, Chappie also stars Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver, and Hugh Jackman with a sweet mullet. The movie opens everywhere next week, on Friday, March 6.