Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Tau Movie Poster Image
Violent sci-fi thriller ultimately falls flat.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Asks questions about artificial intelligence, what it is to be a person, what's out there in the world, and why we create the lives for ourselves that we do, but it doesn't articulate the questions very clearly or provide much in the way of opinion or answer.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Julia's a good role model for never giving up, for being resourceful, for thinking creatively. She starts out as a street hustler and pickpocket, but it's implied that she does it because it's how she can survive. She seems to have bigger dreams, but no support or access to any help other than herself to make them come true. It's unclear how or whether her experience with Alex or Tau changes her, if at all.


A man is impaled through the chest; later his body is dragged and leaves a huge trail of blood. Off-camera Julia saws a man's hand off; afterward, she has blood smears and spatters on her arms, chest, face. She carries the severed hand around to use on hand-print locks. A scary-looking robot makes ominous noises, chases, grabs, hits people. It's also instructed to "inflict pain" if they don't obey. Three victims have creepy-looking gags that cover the lover halves of their faces. A victim is hooked up to a machine that makes her writhe and moan in pain. Some fights with punching and stabbing. A man is smashed by falling debris but no gore is shown. Threatening with an electric prod. Victims shocked on electrified cage bars. A few big explosions. Lots of dark, scary atmosphere and music. One big jump scare.


A few brief shots of kissing and making out in a nightclub. Julia uses seduction and attraction to distract Alex once.


Rare: "s--t" and "f--k."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Glasses with wine are on the table with dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tau is sci-fi story with some horror elements. Violence includes a man getting impaled. No gore is shown when it happens, but later the man's body is dragged along the ground, leaving a huge trail of blood. Off camera, a hand is sawed off and spatters and smears of blood stay on the perpetrator's face, chest, and arms for a long time afterward; she also carries the severed hand around. Disturbing images include victims who are gagged with masks that cover half their faces and a robot that chases, grabs, and hits people. Implants in their brains connect to a computer, causing them to writhe and moan in agony. There are a few fight scenes; one with a knife shows some blood. The overall mood is very dark and menacing. Strong language is rare but strong; "s--t" and "f--k" are used a few times each. One scene shows kissing and making out in a nightclub, and Julia tries to seduce Alex as a distraction; they lean into each other but never have sexual contact. Standard messages about artificial intelligence and what it means to be human are weakly explored or don't reach any conclusion. Julia is a strong role model for self-preservation, creative thinking, and never giving up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJeff4 June 23, 2019

Watch it

It is not to violent and no nudity or sex overall it is a good movie
Adult Written byEdee23 July 31, 2020

Safe for kids

Other than the make up scene in the beginning and Julia seducing killer and the one stabbing scene this is safe. No nudity or mature content .
Teen, 13 years old Written byAlpha0 July 17, 2018

A very good movie

(I'm french so sorry if there are faults)
A very good psycho thriller, which forces us to base an opinion on "TAU":
Is he a person?
Violence is... Continue reading

What's the story?

TAU is the very latest in artificial intelligence created by the mad genius Alex (Ed Skrein). Julia (Maika Monroe) is one of society's outcasts, making a hard-scrabble living as a pickpocket. Alex kidnaps Julia and others to extract algorithms from their brain patterns, which can then be used to improve Tau's (voiced by Gary Oldman) functioning and intelligence. Julia's daring escape attempt fails, but she and Alex reach a truce of sorts where at least she no longer has to be kept tied up. As she interacts with Tau, she starts to bond with it and is able to use its curiosity about the world and its love of music to her advantage. Can Julia escape Alex's clutches, and if she can, what will become of Tau?

Is it any good?

Despite strong visuals and a well-maintained sense of tension and dread throughout the story, this science fiction thriller ultimately falls flat. Maybe it's because Tau tries to be a blend of too much at a time. The horror, kidnap escape, and sci-fi aspects come and go at random. But the biggest problem is that it's exploring an already well-worn path of speculative science fiction, asking standard questions about robots and AI that have been around since before HAL in 2001:  A Space Odyssey. And it doesn't pose the questions in an interesting, new way or offer any kind of fresh perspective on possible answers.

It's visually interesting, as you'd expect from a director with storyboarding credits as impressive as D'Alessandro's. Lots of scenes have a comic book, graphic novel style about them. And Gary Oldman adds an oddly sweet sort of sadness to Tau's voice, especially when he's talking to Julia. The occasionally gory violence, horror elements, tension, and terrorizing robots mean it's best for older teens and up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Tau. How much is too much? Is it different in movies or TV than in books? Why or why not?

  • What are Julia's character strengths? Is she a good role model? Why or why not?

  • If you could have AI installed in your house, would you? Why or why not? How does the depiction of Tau compare to how AI is shown in other movies you've seen, or books you've read?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate