We live in an age where smartphones can tell us when we need to leave for the airport and Turing test competitors inch ever closer to a passing grade, but true artificial intelligence remains out there on the horizon, frustratingly out of reach. At the Tribeca Film Festival a new sci-fi action film imagines one way we might finally achieve that goal — and some of the moral and ethical problems we might not see coming. It’s called The Machine, and you’re going to want to see it.

The second feature from writer and director Caradog James, the film tells the story of Dr. Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens). It’s the near-future. A cold war with China has pushed the Western world into a continued economic depression, and building the first intelligent machines has become the new space race. McCarthy works for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense, designing implants for brain-damaged soldiers. He’s a brilliant and driven man seemingly doing noble work — but there’s something darker there pushing him on. There’s also the matter of how well his research is going; there have been accidents along the way, and he’s treading in a particularly grey area of the moral spectrum.