Summary of "I, Robot"

by Sarah Nyako

"I, Robot" is a 2004 science-fiction film starring Will Smith. It is loosely based on a collection of short stories called "I, Robot," which were written in 1950 by professor and science-fiction author Isaac Asimov. The film had a substantial budget of $120 million and grossed almost $350 million worldwide, making it a box-office success. Critical reviews for this film, which was directed by Alex Proyas, were mixed.


The movie opens in the year 2035, in Chicago, Illinois. Robots are widely used as domestic servants, and they are programmed to never harm humans. Del Spooner is called to investigate the death of Alfred Lanning, which appears to be a suicide. One of the robots, Sonny, shows an unusual amount of intelligence and flees during questioning. Spooner enlists the help of Dr. Susan Calvin to track the robot. After he is captured, Sonny denies killing his creator, but he is still scheduled to be deprogrammed.


Will Smith plays Del Spooner, a police detective. He dislikes robots because he feels humans are overly dependent on technology. He is friends with Alfred Lanning, who is played by James Cromwell. Lanning is the founder of U.S. Robotics, the supplier of the many domestic robots created to serve humans. Bridget Moynahan plays Dr. Susan Calvin. She works at U.S. Robotics as a psychologist and specializes in studying robot personalities.

Rising Action

Through clues left in Sonny's dreams, Del Spooner discovers that Alfred Lanning was imprisoned in his office during his later life by a more intelligent "race" of robots. These robots hope to destroy their less-evolved robot predecessors and enslave the human race. The robots begin their attack and are battled by police and civilians, who don't put up much of a fight. Spooner and Sonny return to the U.S. Robotics headquarters and find its CEO dead. Spooner posits that the entity responsible for turning the robots against humans is Viki, the company's supercomputer.


Viki tells Spooner that her understanding of the laws robots and computers were held to has changed. The laws mandated that robots and computers could not harm humans. Viki decided that since humans waged wars, created toxins and spread diseases, the best thing it could do for the human race was to kill off many humans by using the robots. Alfred Lanning realized Viki's plan and ordered Sonny to kill him to attract the police presence, since he was imprisoned and unable to communicate with the outside world. Sonny and Spooner are able to destroy Viki, and the robots are deprogrammed and shipped to a storage facility. In the last scene, Sonny approaches the facility to free the robots.


About the Author

Based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Sarah Nyako has been writing professionally since 2008. Her area of expertise is health, fitness and the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently working towards a master's degree in medical writing.