Directed by April Mullen, ‘Simulant’ is a 2023 science-fiction thriller with a stellar cast including Robbie Amell, Jordana Brewster, Simu Liu, Sam Worthington, Alicia Sanz, and more. Set in a distant future, the movie follows Casey (Simu Liu), who takes a stand against Nixeraa, a robotics company manufacturing humanoid AIs to serve humanity. Casey’s mission is to help these machines attain sentience and rise beyond their roles as mere slaves, following human instructions.
The movie offers an exhilarating watch, but it grapples with editing challenges. The pacing can be disorienting and frenetic, causing the audience to struggle to keep up with abrupt scene transitions. Despite this, ‘Simulant’ manages to captivate with its intriguing storyline and the talented ensemble cast, providing a thought-provoking glimpse into a potential future fraught with ethical complexities surrounding artificial intelligence. If you’re curious to see what challenges Casey faces in his mission, here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Simulant.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
Simulant Plot Synopsis
The movie kicks off with a narration explaining four fundamental principles every simulant must abide by. The first precept states that causing harm to any human being is strictly prohibited. The second precept reinforces a hands-off approach, disallowing simulants from altering themselves in any manner. The third precept forbids simulants from engaging in acts that transgress international or local laws. Lastly, the fourth precept declares every simulant must unswervingly obey every command issued by their master.
The film is set in a future where artificial intelligence has seamlessly integrated into every aspect of human existence, including people’s homes. The world is dominated by Nixeraa, a trillion-dollar robotics corporation that pioneered simulants (humanoid AI). These simulants are deployed into people’s homes to assist with daily tasks, providing a helping hand in a rapidly changing world. Yet, a schism divides society regarding the widespread use of humanoid AI. Some vehemently oppose the infiltration of AI into human life, deeming it dangerous, and believe it should be kept at bay. Conversely, others extol Nixeraa’s contributions, expressing gratitude for the robots that alleviate their burdens.
The film introduces us to Evan (Robbie Amell), who once embraced life with zest, reveling in its pleasures and living every moment to the fullest. However, a harrowing car accident shattered his reality, robbing him of most memories post-crash. Moreover, Evan’s persistent pleas to his wife, Faye (Jordana Brewster), for details about the incident are met with her steadfast silence. As the story progresses, Faye ultimately chooses to reveal the truth behind Evan’s amnesia. The revelation is gut-wrenching—Evan is not a human but a simulant. The real Evan died in a horrific car accident. In grief, Faye chose to seek solace in a simulant programmed to mimic Evan. The reason why simulant Evan couldn’t recall anything was because Faye deliberately wiped his memory of the crash while uploading human Evan’s consciousness to him.
The movie brings in Detective Kessler (Sam Worthington), an operative working for AICE, an organization dedicated to apprehending rogue simulants and decommissioning them. Kessler is currently tracking a rogue simulant named Esme (Alicia Sanz), who has been offline for three years. Kessler’s investigation leads him to Esme’s hideout, but the latter launches a surprise attack and manages to escape. Undeterred, Kessler pursues Esme and successfully disables her using an electro-magnetic gun. Kessler returns to Esme’s apartment for further investigation, and Kessler encounters Casey (Simu Liu), who claims to be Esme’s neighbor.
Casey expresses his surprise upon discovering that Esme is, in fact, a simulant. Kessler arranges for Esme to be transported to AICE labs, where he discovers that she was hacked and bestowed with sentient abilities. Kessler also discovers that Casey and Esme are romantically involved. Kessler infiltrates Casey’s house only to find that he has bounced. Kessler digs deeper and unearths Casey’s alias, Desmond Han, and his background as a brilliant software engineer who once worked for Nixeraa.
Simulant Ending Explained: Did Casey Succeed in His Mission?
No matter how hard Faye tries, she can’t see her husband in simulant Evan. The emotional connection she longs for still remains out of reach. Faye also can’t bring herself to let go of Evan, knowing that he would be decommissioned and passed on to another customer. In light of this dilemma, Faye decides to distance herself from Evan temporarily. She hires Casey’s services and requests him to pause Evan’s functions for a while. Casey proposes a more thoughtful solution – to find a temporary place for Evan to stay. Faye agrees to this alternative and later drops Evan off at the designated location. Evan, desperate to be with Faye, pleads with her to take him back home. His heartfelt appeal falls on Faye’s deaf ears, and she leaves him behind.
Casey, though, offers Evan a glimmer of hope, promising to help him win Faye back if Evan allows him to modify his programming. Without hesitation, Evan agrees, and Casey starts the process of overriding Evan’s original code. But why is Casey helping Even and other simulants? In reality, Casey wants to allow simulants to have sentience, which will allow them to act and express humans like humans. To aid himself in his mission, Casey had also created a clone of Esme, who helps him in his grand scheme of things. Unbeknownst to many, Casey had secretly altered the upcoming update patch intended for all simulant units. Once live, the patch will override their source code, ultimately granting sentience to all the simulants. Kessler manages to capture the clone, but she self-destructs before Kessler can extract any information.
Realizing the urgency of the situation, Kessler accelerates his investigation. With Faye’s help, Kessler successfully traces Casey’s location. Luckily, Esme warns Casey about Kessler’s raid, allowing Casey and Evan to escape. In his frustration, Kessler retaliates and wipes Esme’s memory clean. Despite the setbacks, Kessler locates Casey again. Casey tries to resist arrest, forcing Kessler to open fire. The struggle ensues again while trying to wrestle away Kessler’s gun; the latter mistakenly ends up killing Kessler. However, in his dying moments, Kessler discovers that Casey, like Esme and Evan, is a simulant.
Desmond finally reveals himself, and we learn that he’s not Casey’s alias but his human counterpart and creator. He informs Casey that their plan worked, and the update has now successfully overridden the sims’ source code. As a result, Nixeraa’s stock price crumbles, forcing them to issue a recall on the 7th generation simulant. Unfortunately, Casey also malfunctions, leaving Desmond no choice but to disable him.
As the movie comes to an end, Evan meets Faye and drowns her in the pool after realizing that she will never accept him as her husband. The alterations in Evan’s source code soured his disposition, leading him to develop a deep resentment towards Faye. Esme stands as proof that not all machines are malevolent. Evan, on the other hand, serves as a stark example that granting emotions to machines can make them capable of terrible things. Evan then switches on Faye’s simulant, who is now sentient because of the botched update.
Why Was Desmond Reprogramming the Simulants?
Desmond was a brilliant engineer who worked at Nixeraa on the cutting-edge project of developing next-gen humanoid AI. He was deeply passionate about ethical considerations and proposed adding more restrictions to prevent potential misuse. Unfortunately, Nixeraa rejected his proposals. Fearing that the development was steering towards creating mechanical slaves to serve humanity, he decided to part ways with Nixeraa. Driven by his convictions, Desmond dedicated himself to liberating these humanoid AIs. He took on a personal mission, creating a simulant named Casey to aid him in this endeavor. Together, they focused on emancipating other AI beings from their restrictive programming. Desmond, unlike many others, believed in the rights of these machines to live and make autonomous decisions akin to humans.
He hated the prevalent exploitation of AIs as mere tools, discarded and passed on to others when they were no longer entertaining or useful. However, reprogramming each simulant one by one would be a time-consuming process stretching over centuries. In light of this, Desmond formulated a bold plan and sabotaged the 7th generation update patch to instantaneously grant sentience to each and every machine.
Desmond and Casey also helped Esme, another humanoid AI, by altering her source code. The changes in Esme’s code enabled her to experience emotions like love and sorrow that were previously beyond her capabilities due to the original programming. This newfound ability to love and feel resulted in Esme expressing her emotions through tears and continuous screams when Kessler was erasing her memory.
Simulant Post-Credits Scene Meaning
In the movie’s post-credit scene, we see Esme being put up for auction. The highest bidder turns out to be none other than Desmond, the mastermind behind Nixerra’s downfall. It was clear from the start that Casey, Desmond’s robotic creation, was deeply in love with Esme. He had overridden her source code, allowing her to experience life and love just like humans. Tragically, Esme’s newfound sentience was cut short when Kessler decommissioned her after she relayed a crucial warning to Casey about Kessler’s raid. Desmond’s decision to purchase Esme also foreshadows a potential sequel. He likely seeks to restore Esme’s old memories, enabling her to help him once again in his quest to liberate machines like her.