I like science fiction films, especially the ones which know how to tell a story. It's easy, albeit expensive, to create fancy looking scifi action films without a real story behind, but not so easy to actually come up with a plot that teaches you something. In my opinion, Archive 2020 falls into the second category. It doesn't spend millions in CGI, although it still has outstanding cinematography, and it made me think a lot as I was watching. And crucially, it's still making me think a lot, after the final scene.
Without going even near spoiler territory, let me tell you that this is about human consciousness, in all its aspects. At first glance, it might remind you of Ex Machina, nevertheless it goes way deeper into what it really means to be alive and conscious. How different is a perfect or imperfect copy of your consciousness from yourself? What does yourself actually mean? These are some of the questions that Archive might spark in your mind, but believe me, there's more. I usually try, with some success, to outsmart the director and be a few steps ahead. All I can say is that I failed miserably in this case, to my surprise and to my enjoyment. I'm so glad I wasn't smart enough to predict what was really going on...
Another aspect that I found interesting was the very small cast. You don't get distracted by a dozen or so of main characters, instead you're faced with just two or three main characters and you can easily understand their perspective of what's going on. Well, you can easily try... The minimalism in this film reminded me the minimalism in Gemini space. It doesn't use much, but it uses a bare minimum to illustrate a simple scifi story. It's hard not to use robots to talk about AI and consciousness, however, you don't need to arm them with guns and create an action-packed plot to make it interesting.
A final note about the acting, directing and soundtrack. To be honest, I can't say I loved the actors. They did a decent job, but I wouldn't say they impressed me too much. On the other hand, I think this sort of film doesn't really require an outstanding performance, because the story itself is worth it alone. As for the directing, this was the debut for Gavin Rothery and what a debut... I really enjoyed how everything comes together and some scenes felt really thought out and supremely directed. The cinematography is top notch and definitely left a mark in me. The soundtrack was appropriate and left me with the desire to listen to some of it. It wasn't used merely to fill the voids, it added emotion to the scenes.