Courtesy of A24

Ex Machina

23:00 April 25, 2015
By: David Vicari

*** out of ****

Ex Machina is the directorial debut for acclaimed writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later..., Sunshine) and plays like a subtle science fiction version of The Last Seduction (1994) with echos of The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Metropolis (1927).

Young computer programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a trip to the isolated compound belonging to Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), CEO of the company that employs him. Bateman is also a genius scientist and has created artificial intelligence in the form of a female robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Nathan wants Caleb to participate in a top secret experiment, which is to interact with Ava to evaluate her level of consciousness. The plot thickens when, during a power outage where video and audio surveillance go down, Ava warns Caleb not to trust Nathan.

Ex Machina is an effective slow-building thriller. It is talky but intelligent, and the scientific conversations are thought provoking. 

Isaac gives an entertaining performance as the arrogant oddball scientist, and Vikander gives Ava a vulnerability as well as sexuality. Yeah, she's a hot robot.

One plot hole is that Nathan, as brilliant as he is, doesn't catch on that the power cuts almost always seem to happen during Caleb's sessions with Ava, or at least it takes him much longer than expected to catch on. Also, I wish the movie had kept going, as it ends rather abruptly with a few interesting ideas unfulfilled. But, hey, I'm glad this film is filled with thoughts and ideas. Ex Machina has much more of a brain than the majority of the effects driven “sci-fi” fodder that often invades movie theaters. 

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