And with that, the curse of the January movies comes to an end. M3GAN is a ridiculously fun film that succeeds because it knows what it is supposed to be and leans into it.
In M3GAN, a young girl (Violet McGraw) goes to live with her roboticist and toy maker aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) after the sudden death of her parents. Gemma revisits attempts to build a life-like doll that can respond, move autonomously, and learn, leading to tragic consequences. Think Child’s Play, but with a modern robot spin. M3GAN will have you hooked from the opening moments as the clever plot is established with breakneck speed, never letting up on the gas. Those looking for a truly scary horror film may be disappointed, but the steady stream of humor and intrigue more than makes up for what it lacks. Part of the fun of director Gerard Johnstone’s film is trying to figure out which M3GAN we are seeing, the young actress credited for playing her (Armie Donald), a practical effects doll, or CGI. Regardless, M3GAN’s vernacular becomes increasingly biting and sharp, her actions more devilish and wild, as the creation adapts to her surroundings.
Williams was truly great and commanding in her role opposite a solid McGraw, the latter of which was tasked with bringing a range of emotion into her performance that she flawlessly executes. Ronny Chieng is also a standout as the CEO of toy company just looking for the next big win, his character often providing subtle humorous moments. What is most impressive about M3GAN is the way Johnstone balances the action, the humor, and the moments of terror so naturally, the delivery coming across modernly snazzy and visually believable; even in the most insane moments, you’ll believe that M3GAN is real. The banger of a soundtrack also helps here, setting the tone for each scene. And for a film that is rated PG-13, the intensity and brutality isn’t skimped on. It’s all tied in a neat bow by a perfect runtime under two hours. Though fairly predictable at times, M3GAN is consistenly extremely satisfying. I’d be willing to bet, and I sincerely hope, that this isn’t the last we see of her. One of my favorite James Wan films to date.