Celab (Domhall Gleeson) is a talented coder working at the prestigious Bluebook, the world's largest search engine. Celab is the lucky winner of the lottery that invites the winner to meet the reclusive, billionaire owner of Bluebook. There Bluebook's CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), is building an advanced AI robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) and asks Celab to test whether Ava passes the Turing Test. However, Celab begins to fall for Ava and that affects the job at hand also Ava reveals that there is more to Nathan that what meets the eye.
Having written the novel for the 2000 film The Beach and the screenplay for 2012's Dredd, Alex Garland moves into the director chair for the first time and for his first time at the helm he displays a stunning level of confidence in presenting his ideas. The film has limited locations, which are beautiful and isolated, but it certainly isn't limited in ideas as the film takes inspiration from the likes of Blade Runner in discussing weighty themes such what it means to be human, consciousness and the power of technology. Ex Machina is a brilliant piece of Science Fiction filmmaking as it's brimming with ideas and it approaches topics frequently discussed in an completely original way, posing many fascinating questions regarding consciousness and the potential of AI.
What the Ex Machina does incredibly well is toy with your emotions, along with Celab the viewer fully believes that Alicia Vikander's Ava is fully rounded living, breathing human being with emotions and the ability to feel sunlight and colour rather than being some prototype ready to be destroyed once a new and improved version is ready to be programmed. The manipulation of our emotions is owed to Garland's terrific writing and two superb performances from Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander (Oscar Isaac is superb as well). Vikander, in particular, does a stunning job at erasing the line between machine and human. For example, the way Ava and Celab connect is thoroughly convincing and even a touch romantic, you feel as though there is a genuine emotional connection between two humans rather than man and machine.
The potential power of Ava, and Vikander's performance, is incredibly unnerving, in fact the potential power of technology to snoop into our privates lives and record our conversations, facial expressions and gauge who we are as a person via our search history is also greatly unsettling and this is a theme that plays strongly in the film. What's also greatly interesting is the way the film discusses gender roles as both Celab and Nathan objectify Ava in different ways and each use Ava for their own desires.
Ex Machina works in so many waya, it works a psychological thriller and it works as a film with many interesting themes and ideas to discuss. It's superbly written, looks incredible and is acted to perfection. Ex Machina is a slow moving, but gripping, exciting and thought provoking experience.