Review of 'Ex Machina'

ex_machina.jpg Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a talented computer programmer working for the world's largest Internet company who wins a contest to spend a week with the reclusive CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), at his house in the mountains. Arriving at Nathan's house Caleb is asked to sign an NDA then is told of the work that Nathan has been exploring: Artificial Intelligence. Caleb is asked to interview 'Ava' (Alicia Vikander), an android that Nathan has created, with a view to seeing whether Ava passes the “Turing Test” - A test where to pass the interviewer must be unable to tell whether the interviewee is a human or an artificial construct. During one of the frequent power cuts, as the ever present cameras watching their sessions turn off, Ava warns a startled Caleb to not trust Nathan. Though as the week goes on the motives of everyone into question…

This is a slow paced thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the startling conclusion. A study in human (?) motives and aspirations. The effects are simply unbelievable with Vikander's performance as Ava chillingly real. Given that the two human characters are both males in the middle of the forest playing with artificial people it was inevitable that sex and female flesh would feature throughout but this only serves to lull the viewer into complacency about what has been created. Nathan is also cold and cynical who is very hard to read with Isaac putting on a tremendous performance. It is Caleb that is our key to understanding what is going on, innocent as he is of what is going on around him and being put into such a difficult situation.

The general look of this film is cool and clean - ultra modern and sophisticated, reflecting Nathan's personality as well as the subject of his obsession. There are lots of scenes of the beautiful surrounding countryside and the interiors of the house. This film is not afraid to step back and give the viewer some perspective.

The end is quite incredible and really worth it. Some might find a bit of the philosophical discussions on the nature of being human a bit hard to take but it is thankfully kept to a relative minimum - the last thing you want in an entertainment piece is to be lectured at - though there is certainly a message of warning to be taken away.

Really interesting though avoid it if you are looking for an action-er. This is a slow-burner that deserves to be seen and appreciated with your full attention paying off in spades at the end. Be patient and turn on your brain a bit for a couple of hours…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2016-07-30

Directed by: Alex Garland

Studio: Universal Pictures International

Year: 2015

Length: 108 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Alex Garland: