In Alex Garland’s directorial debut, he revitalizes a common concept in science fiction and brings Alicia Vikander’s artificial human to amazing life.
Bringing the age-old concept of artificial intelligence is not a rare thing in film. Spike Jonze and Scarlett Johanson did it in 2013’s “Her” and brought this sci-fi concept to the awards race for one of the first times. Now with Ex Machina and Alicia Vikander dominating year-end lists, (even garnering a golden globe nom) the concept is brought to a new, darker light.
The initial plot of the film is already a red flag that only gets bigger and brighter throughout the film. Domhnall Gleeson’s Caleb stars as a coder who wins a competition to go to the owner of his jobs secluded mansion. His boss, the CEO of a Bluebook (a google-esque company), Nathan Bateman, who actually wants him to administer a Turing test to his A.I. robot, Ava.
While the film doesn’t hide the suspense and thriller qualities to it, the plot helps keep you focused rather than the on-the-nose aspects.
Gleeson delivers a pretty good and compelling performance of his introverted coder who was orphaned at a young age, but Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are the true gems.
Isaac’s Bateman is a wonderful balance of creepy and ecstatic in his calculated performance. He walks the line of giving away his character’s true intentions, but keeps you intrigued enough to want to stay tuned to the film.
Vikander’s Ava is presented through “sessions” and gives what is probably the best performance of her career to date. She gives a robot such depth while also keeping important mechanical aspects. Her character is so endearing that when it takes a dark turn in the end, it honestly dropped my job. (despite how obvious it was in hindsight)
The forest setting and Trent Reznor-esque score really brings the film to another creepy and isolated feel that enhances the futuristic feel.
While the film won’t win best picture, it will definitely go down as a great addition and fan favorite to the science fiction genre.