In a not too distant future, Charlie Kenton(Hugh Jackman) tries to make money by operating fighting robots. His robot Ambush is destroyed in a fight. Charlie's debts are mounting and he needs a new robot when he gets the news about the death of his ex-girlfriend. Now, he has take the custody of his 11 year old son Max(Dakota Goyo). When Charlie appears before the court to relinquish custody of Max, he finds a chance to make money by keeping his son under his custody for a few weeks. He takes up the offer.
Although Charlie tries to leave his son with his friend Bailey Tallet(Evangeline Lily), Max persuades his father to take him along for the fights. With the money earned for keeping his son, Charlie buys a new robot. But the new robot is destroyed in the initial fight. Now, Charlie and Max scours a robot junkyard to find replacement parts for the destroyed robot. There, Max comes across an abandoned robot. Despite the skepticism displayed by his dad, Max brings the robot back to their trailer. How this robot changes the lives of Charlie and Max bringing them closer forms the rest of the story.
Shawn Levy directs this entertaining drama about a man who has no aims in life to rediscover himself. The director sets the story in the future and the robot fights as the background. On the brighter side, the future is not dark and the gadgets do not hog the show. In fact, the gadgets (the fighting robots) blend in seamlessly in the movie making the viewer think they are characters. The strength of the movie is father-son interaction with some brilliant dialogues between them. The story has nothing new to offer but the protagonists (father and son) and the backdrop makes this a movie to watch.
The performances of Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo are the key elements in this movie. Hugh's Charlie is a smooth talker with no clear plans on what to do with life. He abandoned his girlfriend as soon as Max was born. He is always in need of money and does not even hesitate to make money by handing over the control of his son. Hugh's screen presence and personality makes the viewer forget all the flaws associated with this character. Goyo's Max is an intelligent and stubborn kid who never gives up. When Hugh and Goyo comes together on screen, it brightens up. Check out the scenes like the first fight of the new robot where Max controls the robot while Charlie helps him, Max challenging the owners of Zeus for a bout while Charlie trying to pull him back, Max and Charlie bantering about who gets the credit just after the first league fight and the tears rolling down Max's eyes on watching Charlie controlling the robot in shadow mode.