April 10, 2016
Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Runtime: 108 minutes
Academy Award, Best Achievement in Visual Effects; Los Angeles Film Critics
Awards: Best Supporting Actress, Alicia Vikander; 56 other award wins, 124 nominations
“Ex Machina packs a scientist’s brain inside a thrill seeker’s body, much like the nubile robot within it.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later, makes an auspicious directorial debut with the unsettling sci-fi thriller, Ex Machina. The film deftly explores multiple themes including the considerations of advancing science technology, male attitudes toward women, and questions if love could exist between humans and an Artificial Intelligence.
Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson, Frank) is an Internet coder who wins a workplace competition to spend a week with the mysterious, abrasive, billionaire genius CEO Nathan (Isaac) at his vast hermetic woodland estate in Alaska, accessible only by helicopter.
The nerdy Caleb soon learns from his provocative boss that he’s to participate in an enigmatic research experiment to test how far out Nathan’s newest A.I. creation, Ava, (Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl), has achieved consciousness. Ava is a female robot who expresses herself as a sensual woman, despite her naked wiring, synthetic covering, and metal parts.
The plan is for Caleb to see if Ava can fully pass the Turing test (named after 1950s computer code-breaker Alan Turing) to see if she pass as human. Caleb finds that
he is attracted to Ava but soon wonders whether he can trust either Nathan or Ava.
The minimalist film is filled with surprises, strong performances, and stunning visuals. Ex Machina is witty and dazzling, and asks how much humans can sympathize with the A.I. beings who can out-think them.