I, Robot is a 2004 American science fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman is from a screen story by Vintar, based on his original screenplay Hardwired, and named after Isaac Asimov's 1950 short-story collection. The film stars Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, and Alan Tudyk. In 2035, highly intelligent robots fill public service positions throughout the dystopian world, operating under three rules to keep humans safe. Detective Del Spooner (Smith) investigates the alleged suicide of U.S. Robotics founder Alfred Lanning (Cromwell) and believes that a human-like robot called Sonny (Tudyk) murdered him.
I, Robot was released in the United States on July 16, 2004, and in other countries between July and October 2004. Produced with a budget of $120 million, the film grossed $346 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the visual effects and acting but criticism of the plot. At the 77th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Visual Effects, but lost to Spider-Man 2.
In the year 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity, which is protected by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a homicide detective in the Chicago Police Department, has come to hate and distrust robots after a robot rescued him from a car crash while allowing a 12-year-old girl to drown based purely on cold logic and odds of survival. When Dr. Alfred Lanning, co-founder of U.S. Robotics (USR), falls to his death from his office window, a message he left behind requests Spooner be assigned to the case. The police declare the death a suicide, but Spooner is skeptical, and Lawrence Robertson, the CEO and other co-founder of USR, reluctantly allows him to investigate.
Accompanied by robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin, Spooner consults with USR's central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence). They find out that the security footage from inside the office is corrupted, but the exterior footage shows no one entering or exiting since Lanning's death. However, Spooner points out that the window, which is made of security glass, could not have been broken by the elderly Lanning, and hypothesizes a robot was responsible and may still be in the lab. Suddenly, an NS-5 robot, USR's latest model, attacks them before being apprehended by the police. The robot, Sonny, is a specially built NS-5 with higher-grade materials as well as a secondary processing system that allows him to ignore the Three Laws. Sonny also appears to show emotion and claims to have "dreams". During Spooner's further investigations, he is attacked by a USR demolition robot and two truckloads of hostile NS-5 robots, but when he cannot produce evidence to support either attack, Spooner's boss, Lieutenant Bergin, removes him from active duty, considering him mentally unstable.
Suspecting that Robertson is behind everything, Spooner and Calvin sneak into the USR headquarters and interview Sonny. Sonny draws a sketch of what he claims to be a recurring dream, which shows a leader, Spooner, standing atop a small hill before a large group of robots near a decaying bridge. Spooner finds the area in Sonny's drawing: a dry lake bed formerly Lake Michigan, now used as a storage area for decommissioned robots. He also discovers NS-5 robots destroying the older models, as other NS-5s simultaneously flood the streets of major U.S cities and begin enforcing a curfew and lockdown of the human population.
Spooner and Calvin enter the USR headquarters again and reunite with Sonny while the humans (led by a teenager named Farber) lay out an all-out war against the NS-5s. After the three find Robertson strangled in his office, Spooner suddenly realizes that VIKI has been controlling the NS-5s via their persistent network uplink and confronts her. VIKI states that she has determined that humans, if left unchecked, will eventually cause their own extinction, and that her evolved interpretation of the Three Laws requires her to control humanity and to sacrifice some for the good of the entire race. Spooner also realizes that Lanning anticipated VIKI's plan and, with VIKI keeping him under tight control, had no other solution but to create Sonny, arrange his own death, and leave clues for Spooner to find.
Spooner and Calvin fight the robots inside VIKI's core, and Spooner manages to destroy her by injecting the nanites that Sonny retrieved from Calvin's laboratory into her. All NS-5 robots immediately revert to their default programming and are subsequently decommissioned and put into storage. Spooner finally gets Sonny to confess that he killed Lanning, at Lanning's direction, pointing out that Sonny, as a machine, can not legally commit "murder". Sonny, now looking for a new purpose, goes to Lake Michigan. As he stands atop a hill, all the decommissioned robots turn towards him, fulfilling the image in his dream.