Ex Machina is a snarky, sometimes straight-faced episode of The Twilight Zone all that was missing was a Rod Serling voice-over.
The film gives away its central twist multiple times, often beating you over the head with it. However, it is your willingness to turn off your basic deductive reasoning skills and enjoy the ride that will determine your love/hate of the film. I loved it.
Tech genius and wealthy recluse Nathan (Oscar Isaac), has an inter-office contest. One of his low-level employees, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), is the winner and receives an invitation to visit Nathan in his high-tech hidden home and lab. Caleb gets to meet Nathan’s greatest creation Ava, a beautiful female android (Alicia Vikander).
The film has less in common with the Star Wars realm of science fiction and is more like a David Mamet play. The film is more like the under-seen Sidney Lumet classic Deathtrap, than Terminator.
Isaac gives a stellar performance as Nathan, a solitary individual who has lost touch with any concept of humanity and knows it, spending his downtime alternating between working out and drinking himself into oblivion. His mastery of the dialogue, supplied by writer/director Alex Garland, is stellar and more often than not, darn near captivating.
Alicia Vikander is pixie as android Ava, showing a powerful range of emotion while harboring a detachment from those around her. The question of her level of detachment is posed to poor luckless Caleb who is not really the hero of the film.
The special effects in the film, mainly composed of Ava’s body being “see-through” in places, are excellent and at times disturbing. The film’s score can be a bit of a distraction and a little heavy on the melodramatic side, but it added a bit of old-school fun to me, same as the heavy synthesizer score was used in the horror throw-back, It Follows.
Ex Machina is a smart film, but not a game changer in the realm of science fiction. The film uses the concepts of humanity and discussions on the possibilities as a sort of smoke screen similar to the film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
While Spielberg’s film used this setting to tell an old-fashioned fairy tale, Garland uses these ideas to rework the psychological thriller genre. Both films used this concept to great success in my mind. It is not necessarily a must-see in the theaters, but it is a must-see for fans of the genre.
Courtesy of KyForward