The Short- Ex Machina is a wonderfully sci-fi thriller that has a number of fantastic twists, 3 brilliant performances and a chill inducing final act. Oscar Isaac gives an incredible performance and Alicia Vikander has never been better in Alex Garland's equal parts beautiful and brainy film about Sex, discovery and how scary the feature of A.I. could be.
Ex Machina is the directorial debut of acclaimed sci-fi/horror screen writer Alex Garland, whose top films include 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd, and Never Let me Go. Garland, a writer who has spent plenty of time writing visual movies while working with Danny Boyle on 28 Days Later and Sunshine has pulled off one of best sci-fi movies that you will see this year. Ex Machina revolves around Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) a genius coder who wins a competition to spend a week in the CEO of his major Tech Company’s mountain retreat. When he meets Nathan (Oscar Isaac) he figures out that the competition wasn’t luck of the draw but a way for Caleb to test his bosses biggest technological advance, a sentient robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander).
Ex Machina had a lot going for it even prior to its release, for 1 it has an excellent cast with up and coming stars Gleeson, Isaac and Vikander. Gleeson will be appearing in Star Wars The Force Awakens (alongside Isaac), gave a scene stealing performance in Calvary, and made his first big splash in 2013’s time traveling rom/com About Time. Before that Gleeson was best known as Ron Weasley’s older brother in The Harry Potter series. He is the star of Ex Machina and gives an excellent performance, as the shy, but very curious genius coder who is there in fact to do a Turing test on Ava. Ava is played with delight by Alicia Vikander ( Anna Karenina, Testament of Youth), as the audience and Caleb try to decide whether Ava is a sentient being Vikander provides arguments to be made for both. The actress bares her soul as Ava and while Caleb begins to fall in loves with her so does the audience. Vikander is incredible and might very well give one of the top 10 performances of 2015. As for the final member of the cast Oscar Isaac is turning into a Hollywood heavy weight, with every performance the Golden Globe nominee continues to turn in truly brilliant performances. As Nathan, Isaac plays the reclusive billionaire with a tactful amount of charm, while also showing Nathan as a controlling drunk but inarguably genius.
Ex Machina might be about A.I and technology but needs very little special effects, Garland provides a beautifully tense sci-fi feature that mixes its science fiction around taut performances and by the films climax Ex Machina gives no indication on how it could actually end. Garland’s script is minimalist, the dialogue and surroundings feel so real that the existence of someone like Nathan with the power to create something like Ava seems not only obvious but fully based in fact. Garland’s eye for color, and camera movements up the tension and realism, with one moment Nathan and Caleb speak about Ava and her creation under the beautiful mountainous back drop of Nathan’s home to the claustrophobic room where Caleb and Ava become acquainted. What Garland creates is a film that could play just as well on a Broadway stage, a film driven by the idea that within technology lies creation and beauty but also something inherently dark and destructive. Ava gives of the feeling of Naiveté while carefully setting up the films climax, Ex Machina will make you fully believe that Nathan’s motives are both completely worthwhile and at the same time confirm your fear that one day some bored drunken genius will create the first Sentient Robot. It’s a question asked in everything from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, to James Cameron’s Terminator, whether something created for the good of discover will come back and bite you in the ass. Garland has created a visual masterpiece of Science Fiction cinema and done so on a small budget with an excellent cast. It might be early on in the year but Ex Machina is the best film of 2015 so far and one of the best Sci-fi films in recent memory.