If you or your child ever shed a tear when yet another Roomba bit the dust, then “A.X.L.” may be the movie for you.
A misguided kiddie action pic that combines motocross and a fetching, tail-wagging, howling robotic military dog that chews on pieces of pipe instead of bones and can keep up with you no matter how fast you drive your motorbike thanks to JATO — Jet Assisted Take-Off, it has no laughs, no thrills and little that would distract, much less entertain a child.
Unless that child is inclined to go “Awww” at anything resembling a dog, even a digitally-created metal Skeletor like A.X.L. He’s a prototype whose name means “Attack, Expedition, Logistics,” “the War Dog of the Future” from Craine Industries and mad scientist Andric (Dominic Rains) and his whiny tech assistant Randall (Lou Taylor Pucci).
A.X.L. has busted out of the desert Southwest lab where the $70 million killing machine was being developed. Why? Not getting enough walks and trips to the dog park, apparently.
That’s where motocross master Miles (Alex Neustaedter) stumbles across it…”him.” He’s just been conned by a conniving rich rival Sam (Alec MacNicoll) who urged him to “rip some gnarly whips” (get his bike airborn) before causing him to crash.
And the robot dog, hiding from search drones, finds him. The lad says the same thing boys always say to strange dogs in the movies.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” Thus, the motorized, macerator-mouthed mutt is “tamed” by the kid who electronically imprints on it. “HIM.”
The too-hot/midriff-baring girl his rival has under his thumb Sara (Becky G) becomes Miles’ partner-in-crime as he resolves to not give the machine back to its owners, as “He’s been abused.”
Thomas Jane shows up to collect a check as Miles’ dad, and Ted McGinley defies all logic by continuing to find work playing Sam’s rich jerk of a father.
We’re meant to get all gooey and fear for the “dog” as assorted cruel threats present themselves to it — “Him” — but good luck with that. “A.X.L.” the film and A,X.L. the War Dog is as cuddly as a Battle Bot, with and all the warmth of the Craftsman section of your neighborhood Sears.
MPAA Rating:PG for sci-fi action/peril, suggestive material, thematic elements and some language
Cast: Alex Neustaedter, Becky G, Thomas Jane, Dominic Rains, Lou Taylor Pucci
Credits: Written and directed by Oliver Daly. A Global Road release.
Running time: 1:40