Ex Machina burns slow like a candle keeping you mesmerized with its flame. You can easily become enveloped in its world. It allows you to sit back and go with the flow for every question you could have will eventually be answered. This is Alex Garland’s, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, exquisite directorial debut.
The movie opens in a bustling tech company office where we are introduced to Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer who won a competition to spend a week at the secluded residence of his company’s CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Once arrived, Bateman makes Smith sign a confidentiality agreement prior to revealing his work with Artificial Intelligence. He’s taken aback by it but feels he has no choice. Miss out on what’s lurking behind the secluded walls? Smith is ecstatic when he finds he is tasked to perform Turing Testing on Bateman’s latest creation Ava (Alicia Vikander). Does she exhibit consciousness? Could she pass as human?
The audience is a voyeur in Smith’s conversations with Ava as there seems to exist an attraction between them. Could Ava actually be seducing Smith on her own? You’re drawn in and invited to jump to your own conclusions. Smith then becomes increasingly apprehensive of his role and Bateman’s true intentions in bringing him there. Why is Ava female? Why does she have a face? Why is she programmed to exhibit sexuality? Or is that a natural development? It begins to confuse Smith because none of those things seem necessary to him in testing A.I. It aggravates him as the lines of what is real and what isn’t become blurred.
In time a three-way struggle develops between them and Ava. Smith’s being pushed and pulled in so many directions that the experiment is just as much about Ava testing him as he is testing her or has Bateman been testing both of them all along?
Directed by: Alex Garland
Written by: Alex Garland
MPAA rating: R
Running time: 108 min