Johannesburg, South Africa, 2016. The world’s first robotic police force – created by weapons manufacturer Tetravaal – has reduced crime significantly and created a safe, secure city. Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), the chief engineer of Tetravaal’s ‘Scout Program’, has greater ambitions than those of the organisation’s CEO, Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver). Years of Deon’s after-hours tinkering pay off when he successfully creates a program that, if applied to one of his ‘scout’ robots, would provide it with consciousness. Meanwhile, Deon’s colleague Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) is trying to sabotage the scout programme in order to have his own invention, the brutal MOOSE, deployed instead.

After hearing about Deon’s ambitions for a new breed of robot, criminals Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones), Yolandi (Yolandi Visser) and Yankie  (Jose Pablo Cantillo) land on the idea of having a robot do the heavy lifting for a heist. They kidnap Chappie (Sharlto Copley) – Deon’s test robot – and try to reprogram him. Caught between these corrupt new ‘parents’ and the desire to please his maker, who wants to see Chappie’s artistic, emotional and moral potential unleashed, this robot has some very human choices to make.