“Jung_E” opens with a crawl that explains the setting is 2194. Of course, by then we have long ago made this planet inhabitable, creating man-made shelters to house the remaining factions of humanity. Naturally, these factions don’t all get along, and three have broken off and started a war between the remaining sectors of humanity, a battle that was once led by an incredible soldier named Yun Jung-yi (Kim Hyun-joo). In this vision of the future, consciousness can be downloaded into A.I., and that’s exactly what a team of experts are trying to do with Yun, turning her expertise into a killing machine named Jung_E. However, they keep failing in their efforts as they attempt to virtually recreate the day that Yun died in combat, hoping that if they can map her brain in a way to get past that fateful event that she’ll be even more unstoppable and win the war.
Leading the project is an expert named Seohyun (the sadly deceased Kang Soo-yeon, to whom the film is dedicated), who happens to be the daughter of Yun, who has been in a coma for 35 years. While Seohyun has a very personal connection to the project—in a sense she’s trying to save not only her mother’s consciousness but to overcome that which killed her—she’s balanced by the more aloof and cynical Sang-Hoon (the entertaining Ryu Kyung-soo of “Hellbound”), who sees the project in more clinical terms, and is worried more about the government shutting it down than any moral boundaries being pushed.
After an opening sequence that sets the table for Jung_E’s fighting ability, Yeon settles into scene after scene of Sang-Hoon and Seohyun discussing how the project is going and how to fix it. Yeon plays with some interesting ethical ideas—there’s a good scene wherein it’s revealed that economic inequity comes into play in this vision of the future even after you die. (The poorest people won’t have any control over their consciousness.) But “Jung_E” just gets far too talky, spinning its wheels in a way that lacks the emotional and philosophical heft a film like this needs to be so confined to research chambers for so long.