Ex Machina (2015): To Erase the Line Between Man and Machine

Posted: May 3, 2015 in Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

posters-image-4After winning a contest in the office for a week with the CEO, Caleb takes a helicopter into the middle of the wilderness and has to search for Nathan’s secret hideaway. Stumbling upon a structure in the distance, the computer system invites him in and he finally comes across the eccentric tech genius. Excited for the opportunity, Caleb remains apprehensive about the intentions behind the week-long visit. Nathan eventually reveals the true purpose for his trip to this facility: artificial intelligence. Believing that he has cracked the code, Nathan employs Caleb to join him in an experiment to test the level of humanity in his robot, Ava. As the week goes on, the test brings up questions as to whether Nathan’s presence was a mere play of chance and if there is something deeper about his involvement in Nathan’s test.

Review: Alex Garland sought to make a terrifying futuristic thriller and succeeded. While there is a creepy vibe throughout the start of the story. The introduction of a relatively innocent looking Ava really starts to get the questions rolling. Bringing the story to life were the polar opposite Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb) and Oscar Isaac (Nathan). While Domhnall consistently appeared frightened by the unknown and puzzled by the potential that he was being tricked, Oscar broke out of his traditional more reserved persona and had a glint of aggression in his eye throughout the story. For Alicia Vikander (Ava), playing the role of the robot in question was no easy task either. She blended a realistically believable combination of naivety and hidden power through the combination of her facial expressions, tone of voice, and graceful movements.

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The big question of the story was whether AI is dangerous. From the start, Nathan made it clear that AI was not a question of why, but rather when. Although he had multiple failed attempts are perfecting the algorithm and relative realism, Ava was potentially his masterpiece. Caleb serving as the tester was merely a rouse for a much greater purpose. While Nathan’s intentions always surrounded the realism of Ava, how he wanted to figure out his success was less clear. His eccentricity and the ominous nature of the compound left Caleb willing and open to catch the subtleties in his interactions with Ava and discussions with Nathan. Escape may have felt like the only option, but it was never going to be that simple.

Ex Machina is a truly golden directorial debut of Garland and is wrapped up in the success of the acting and the intrigue of how Ava’s story unfolds.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5


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