In the future, there is a cold war with China, consisting of building more and more sophisticated intelligent machines. Britain's Ministry of Defense is funding the work of brilliant scientist named Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens), who is secretly funneling research funds to attempting to cure his terminally ill daughter. A new recruit from America named Eva helps him make a breakthrough that allows him to make his first prototype.
The movie contains examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Inverted. The AI doesn't want to kill anyone, but the director of the project forces it to do so with threats of activating its self-destruct.
- Badass Adorable: Machine is generally a friendly, passive being, who inherited Eva's fear of spiders and clowns, and has a childlike fascination with the world. She's also stronger than steel and can kill a man with just one finger (and does so twice).
- Big Bad: Director Thomson decides to use the Machine as a weapon against her creator's wishes, and later holds the brain recording of Vincent's dead little girl hostage to get him to obey.
- Blood-Splattered Innocents: The Machine herself, for awhile.
- Break the Cutie: Thompson's plan for turning a childlike android into a weapon consists of having her murder the Chinese agent who killed Eva, on whom she was modeled, telling her that the man will kill Vincent if she doesn't intervene.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The research facility itself, where the bulk of the action takes place.
- Glowing Mechanical Eyes: The implant soldiers, and later the Machine, all have these.
- Government Conspiracy: The British government is covering up the fates of wounded soldiers in its program. One soldier's mother stands outside the gates of the complex, accosting anybody who goes in to learn the fate of her son.
- Ill Girl: Mary, Vincent's daughter, who is the entire reason he's participating in government weapons research. Just before her death, he duplicates her brain functions using the same head rig used to make the Machine out of Eva.
- Instant Expert: The Machine installs some programs at Thompson's urging, which turn out to be a suite of combat and infiltration skills. What captures her imagination about it, though? "I can speak other languages!"
- Just a Machine: Unfortunately, proving Machine is a thinking being simply convinces the director that it is way too dangerous to let live.
- Never Given a Name: The protype AI is never called anything but "Machine".
- Replacement Goldfish: The Machine for Eva. Vincent wants to follow up with his daughter.
- Robo Romance: With the complication that he's her father figure and brain donor's former coworker, and she's an unstable android intended for international wetwork.
- Robot Girl: The Machine.
- Virtual Ghost: Mary, Vincent's daughter who is used as a bargaining chip to compel Vincent's obedience.
- Will They or Won't They?: Thomson requests Machine to do for him what he wants, which seems to imply sexual favours. When McCarthy finds Machine again, she is traumatized, and first refuses to tell what happened. Later she tells that Thomson coerced her to kill the Chinese agent.