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Five Science Fiction Movies to Stream Now

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

The Australian director Ivan Sen has been on the radar of genre aficionados since “Mystery Road” (2013) and “Goldstone” (2016), two successful hybrids of procedural and western revolving around the charismatic figure of a taciturn Indigenous detective. For his latest, Sen mixed science fiction and noir, with a dollop of romance thrown in.

A disheveled Ryan Kwanten (who has matured in interesting ways as an actor since “True Blood”) stars as Jack, a hit man plying his trade in a futuristic metropolis. Just as he falls for April (Jillian Nguyen), whom he saw singing in a peepshow-like club, Jack starts getting weaker, afflicted by a mysterious disease. Hugo Weaving, abundantly bearded, turns up as a mysterious “life-extension specialist” who may or may not be able to help, at least with the health part.

Don’t pay too close attention to the story, though, because “Expired” (titled “Loveland” in Australia) is more reverie than tightly plotted actioner. In turn maddening and hypnotic, serene and irritating, the movie is an art-house fugue disguised as a genre flick. Yes, it does get a little portentous at times, but you have to admire Sen’s stubborn avoidance of the default irony and cynicism of so much action fare, and his quest for a serious mood.

The tag line on the poster of the 1975 movie “A Boy and His Dog” was: “A future you’ll probably live to see.” It adequately describes this efficient thriller, which is plausibly, and scarily, set in 2023.

From the start we care for Sarah (Michelle Girolami), a New York ragamuffin who is so adrift, so desperate that she accepts to have an experimental chip implanted in her back. (Girolami’s close-cropped hair, hoodie and nervous energy make the character feel like an American relative of the “Millennium” books’ Lisbeth Salander.)

Sarah’s life turns into a nightmare when the so-called L.E.X.X. (voiced by L.E.X.X., according to the end credits) develops a will of its own and forces its host to do its bidding. “Unfortunately for you, you are under my control,” L.E.X.X. tells Sarah — as it turns out, a synthetic entity can drip with sarcasm. The young woman becomes immersed in a nightmare in which she is the prisoner of a voice in her head (the movie could have further explored the intriguing possibility that this is not sci-fi at all but a tale of mental illness).

While its script is not all that innovative and some of the effects are distractingly simplistic (ixnay on the glowing eyes, please), “Implanted” benefits from above-average filmmaking: The director Fabien Dufils has a sure grasp of the fundamentals of his craft, and that alone puts him and his movie ahead of the bulk of the streaming underworld.

In retrospect, it was an auspicious sign that Chloë Grace Moretz’s breakthrough roles were in the cartoonishly violent “Kick-Ass” and the atmospheric vampire tale “Let Me In,” both from 2010. While this versatile actress is at ease in any style, she brings a unique presence — decisive with flashes of vulnerability — to action films. Here she elevates Mattson Tomlin’s post-apocalyptic tale as Georgia, a young woman who finds out she’s pregnant just as our android helpers revolt and Earth goes to hell in a handbasket. (The uprising happens fast and is not really explained, which did not bother me but may frustrate some viewers.)

Most of the film is dedicated to Georgia and her boyfriend, Sam (Algee Smith), trying to reach Boston, where they plan to board a boat to Asia, where it is reputedly safer. It is largely a standard “pregnant in the apocalypse” survival story but as usual, Moretz gives the film a compelling emotional anchor — and Georgia must do a lot of heavy lifting since Sam is a not very exciting fellow, illustrating the depressing but realistic scenario that a woman might have to settle while also trying to escape murderous cyborgs.

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

This Canadian drama may take place in 2043, years after a devastating civil war, but it clearly draws from an ignominious episode in the country’s history, when thousands of First Nations children were packed off to residential schools so they could be stripped of their identity and assimilated into so-called normal society — as if this weren’t bad enough, many were abused and killed. (There were similar institutions in the United States.)

In Danis Goulet’s film, kids are rounded up and kept in a federal academy where they can be brainwashed and trained to fight. After hiding her young daughter, Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart), for years, Niska (Elle-Maija Tailfeathers) must reluctantly let her be whisked away. Once Niska realizes what actually happens at the academy, she sets out to retrieve her daughter, with the help of the title band of resisters.

“Night Raiders” does have some action elements, but Goulet is much better at establishing a matter-of-fact tone that underlines the quotidian hardships of surviving in an environment hellbent on destroying one’s very identity.

Stream it on Netflix.

Well, this has been a grim column, so let’s end it with some levity … about technology going bad, very bad. The perils of our increasing reliance on A.I.-driven assistance are clearly on many people’s minds: Two animated movies — similarly hyperactive and sharing conflicted perspectives they can’t quite resolve — on the subject came out within a few months of each other last year.

The better one is “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” which is nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature. The premise is simple: Just as the Mitchell family embarks on its last road trip before the daughter, Katie (Abbi Jacobson), starts college, a vengeful A.I. (Olivia Colman) sets up robots to rise against mankind. Oops.

The nonstop action is enlivened by a terrific voice cast, amusing Easter eggs, an inventive grab-bag aesthetic and an appealing lead in the nerdy, film-obsessed Katie. Naturally, the human face of pernicious tech convinced of its coolness is a seemingly chill dude in a hoodie, Mark (Eric André).

That exact same archetype (now called Marc) turns up in “Ron’s Gone Wrong” (streaming on Disney+ and HBO Max), which also features Colman and rogue A.I. The story deals with kids using bots as friends, but the sentimental treatment lets everybody off the hook.

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