“Ex Machina is exquisitely intelligent; the movie deftly evokes Kubrick and Hitchcock simultaneously in its dark exploration of humanity’s connection to technology.”
US Release date: April 10, 2015
Director: Alex Garland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, and Sonoya Mizuno
Running time: 108 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Scientists all over the world seem to believe that the discovery of Artificial Intelligence could be the biggest (and most catastrophic) moment in human history. The British Sci Fi Thriller, Ex Machina, written and directed by Alex Garland, explores a darker, more intimate side to the potential discovery.
Programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a drawing to spend a week with his ultra-reclusive employer, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) at his lush, isolated estate. The story quickly unfolds as Caleb learns that he has been brought to the isolated location to help Bateman administer the “Turing Test” on an Artificial Intelligence project that Bateman has been developing in his seclusion.
[Note: The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human 70% of the time after five minutes of questioning of the human and the machine.]
Enter Ava. Caleb begins his testing of Ava…and that’s when the movie starts to get very interesting. It gets so interesting that I am not going to discuss the plot anymore.
I will say this though:
GO. SEE. EX MACHINA. THIS. WEEKEND. (Or, at least, before Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out in a week.)
Ex Machina is exquisitely intelligent; the movie deftly evokes Kubrick and Hitchcock simultaneously in its dark exploration of humanity’s connection to technology. There are some limited CGI/ green screen effects in the movie and they are gorgeous and seamless; but, the real heart of this movie resides in the metaphysical exploration of Artificial Intelligence and how humans engage other humans and, in theory, how humans would engage an artificial intelligence. Gleeson and Isaac are both dazzle filmgoers as the tension in their working dynamic slowly tightens as Caleb tests Ava over the duration of his stay. Isaac’s Bateman is disconnected socially in his genius but his alpha male dominance gives him a certain swagger that will make filmgoers uncomfortable way. I literally cringed with discomfort every time he said, “Bro.”
Watch Isaac’s Bateman “tear up the fucking dance floor” in this clip.
Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, is a complete mystery with her sheepishly demure robotic body posture and her disarmingly innocent girl-next-door human face. Vikander’s innocent Ava saunters around in strikingly sensual movements giving this techno-thriller a fair amount of erotic edginess. Yeah, you read that right. It’s certainly unnerving to watch and keep in mind that this isn’t a “she” but an “it” and Vikander’s lilt of a voice and doe-like eyes will mesmerize you during her interactions with Gleeson.
Garland’s story is tightly paced; the existential metaphysics of Artificial Intelligence are eruditely discussed in short bursts so that moviegoers aren’t lulled to sleep with jargon. Instead, they are continually barbed with Bateman’s refusal to be so analytical…bro. There is a lot of really great juxtaposition between the cold confines of the ultra-modern home/ research compound and the lush, forested surroundings of the home. Bateman seems to egoistically play God in both environs as he controls Caleb’s access to the compound or when he’s bounding up a sheer cliff face to lay down in front of a melting snow cap on towards the top of a mountain nearby.
Without spoiling anything, the apex of the movie starts with a foreseeable culmination but there are three fairly serious twists that will confound even the most jaded watcher. I was literally chuckling in delight that such a simple movie with a total of four cast members could create enough torsion at the end to have me white-knuckled and riveted until the credits ran.
Ex Machina does not disappoint. If you are a fan of BLACK MIRROR, you will love the human connection to technology. Again, Gleeson and Isaac are fantastic foils for one another; and I highly doubt that any of you will be able to take your eyes off of Vikander as Ava. She simply scintillates. I’ll say it again:
Go see Ex Machina this weekend. You won’t be disappointed…and you might never use a web browser to search for porn ever again. Seriously.