“ROBOT & Frank”, as the title implies, is a film about human-robotic interactions. Frank is an elderly retired cat burglar who is losing it. His children consider institutionalizing him but before doing so, they get him a robot to help him with simple domestic tasks, keep him on track and report to them if anything untoward happens.
ROBOT keeps his end of the bargain and does a good job, as Frank’s children programmed him to do. But there is a catch: human beings are wily and at the end of the day, human quirks and failings trump artificial intelligence. ROBOT gets humanized and becomes Frank’s ally and friend.
At first ROBOT encourages Frank to try gardening and long forest treks but that is not enough to awaken the old man’s zest for life. He finally succeeds when man and machine jointly plan a multi-million dollar heist: Frank providing human ingenuity and ROBOT taking care of state-of-the-art security hacking.
The plot of this movie is highly predictable thanks to 20th Century science-fiction writers like Ray Bradbury, but like all human plots, there is a twist to this one. Fine performances by Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon make this gentle story “set in the near future” touching and fully believable.