Possible spoilers ahead!
During my vacation last week, I thought it would be a good idea to catch up on a few movies I missed in theatres. One of those movies was the recent sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina.” If like me you missed this movie when it was playing on the big screen, here’s what you need to know:
A young computer coder Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), working for the world’s most powerful tech company, is randomly selected to help his boss in an unorthodox experiment. Caleb is flown from his desk job to the isolated home, and research facility, of the company’s reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) for a weeklong visit. However, when the eager employee actually meets his employer, Caleb finds that, in his isolation, Nathan has become unhinged and obsessive, not to mention, a drunk.
Caleb is unsure whether he should stay or not. But, when Nathan reveals to Caleb the purpose of his visit, the coder dismisses his insecurities and gets down to work. Hidden away in his vast compound, Nathan has been working on an advanced artificial intelligence named Ava (Alicia Vikander) – and is hoping Caleb can successfully administer a Turing Test: intended to determine if an A.I.’s personality and self-awareness is equal or greater than a flesh-and-blood human. But it soon becomes clear, that Caleb is dealing with more than he can handle.
Some moviegoers might be a bit skeptical of this movie knowing that a freshman filmmaker was behind the camera. But I gotta tell you, Alex Garland hit a home run with this movie. “Ex Machina” ia a thought-provoking, visually stunning, and at times, haunting sci-fi story,
The three leads in the movie are exceptional. Domhnall Gleeson is an absorbing and empathetic character. It is through him that the audience relates to everything. He’s there to educate the audience on all the science stuff, but he’s never boring.
Oscar Isaac delivers one of his best performances in “Ex Machina.” He played Nathan as if he were Tony Stark turned up to 11. He was funny, (the dance scene is hysterical), but boy oh boy was he scary at times. Issac is a fantastic talent, and he’s from my home country, so yay!
In any other situation, Oscar Isaac’s tortured genius would steal the show, but, here, its Ava (played by Alicia Vikander) who succeeds as the main attraction. Vikander’s performance required a subtle approach to ensure that Ava is neither too human or too robotic.
Vikander’s vulnerable portrayal keeps Ava locked in a captivating middle ground – forcing Caleb, Nathan, and (more importantly) the audience to face a range of complicated human emotions: Love, hate, fear, sadness, you name it, you feel it for this character.
“Ex Machina” is one of the best sci-fi dramas in recent years. But keep this in mind before sitting down to watch it: “Ex Machina” is not a mainstream sci-fi film, nor is it a summer blockbuster.
In many ways, this movie is a character study about the human soul. “Ex Machina” makes you think, question and debate. And, it keeps you thinking long after the credits have rolled.
“Ex Machina” final score: 9.5