Ex_Machina: Film Review

ex1

I cannot adequately articulate how brilliant this film is. Everything was on point from the casting, the dialogue, the mix between science/story-telling and the suspense.  Sci-fi fans should see this because it is a truly intelligent, thought-provoking film that doesn’t lose the human drama at the hands of science.

Domhnall Gleeson is Caleb, a programmer for a massive search-engine company who wins a prize draw to spend a week at the remote home of the founder/CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac) in Alaska. He discovers that he is actually staying in a home-slash-research facility and will be testing a female android Ava (Alicia Vikander) for artificial intelligence capabilities. Does she has conscious thoughts and make her own decisions, or is she is simply a robot simulating those things? Caleb and Ava soon develop a bond –but can it be trusted? Who is deceiving whom?

ex2

The film is essentially four people (some androids) talking in a confined house, but it is so gripping because the power dynamics shift all the time and everybody seems to be hiding something. You never know if Nathan has an ulterior motive, if Ava is fully conscious and being deceptive and if Caleb is as innocent as he seems. Each character is multi-faceted and you don’t know their true colours until the very end.

The action is seen through the eyes of Caleb, a naive worker who is so overwhelmed at the situation as he begins to realise he signed up for more than he bargained for. We are with him when he slowly unravels and starts to develop feelings for an android – who seems to reciprocate these feelings but does she? Or is she simply programmed to?

ex3

Vikander is such a believable and captivating android. She moves with such grace and barely twitches like us humans. We only see her face, hands and feet through the majority of the film so it is impressive what she can do. The movie could be seen as misogynistic as Nathan treats his female robots as disposable, but the ending will make you realise otherwise. Director Alex Garland seems to sympathise with her the most (although I didn’t – I was team Caleb throughout). Isaac is brilliant as always. Nathan is constantly screwing with Caleb’s head and is very shifty.

There is some science speak, with Caleb asking a lot of technical questions about how she works that will go over the heads of us regular Joes, but the arguments about AI are clearly explained and are designed to create discussion. I guessed a few of the plot points along the way, but the ending was still satisfying and full of tension. The suspense ramps up throughout, especially when the power shuts off (which happens regularly) and you wait to see what happens/who will be the bad guy. I would have liked the ending to have more of a ‘holy crap!’ style twist but that’s me being picky.

Released tomorrow

Trackbacks

  1. […] This is one clever sci-fi thriller that will leave you thinking for hours afterwards. It is tense, claustrophobic and the dialogue is tight as hell. Domhnall Gleeson is a member of staff at a tech company who wins a prize draw to meet the owner (Oscar Isaac) in his secluded lair. He must take part in a Turing Test to discover whether his ‘robot’ Ava (Alicia Vikander) has true artificial intelligence. All the actors bring it. I just love it. Review. […]

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