I have today watched a new British film, written and directed by Alex Garland (who also wrote “28 Days Later” and “Sunshine”). Entitled “Ex Machina”, it’s a science fiction thriller.
Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson – “Frank”, “Calvary”) is a computer coding programmer working for the world’s most popular internet search engine, Bluebook. One day he finds that he has won a competition at work to meet and spend a week at the home of the company’s CEO.
The CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac – “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Robin Hood”) lives in a futuristic high security home hidden in the mountains, hours from civilisation.
When Caleb arrives he discovers that Nathan wants him to use his skills to act as a tester in a Turing Test of Artificial Intelligence on a humanoid robot that he has designed and built, named Ava (Alicia Vikander – “Son Of A Gun”, “The Fifth Estate”).
The only other person at Nathan’s home is his assistant Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno – “Venus In Eros”) who is unable to speak English, and is often treated with disdain by the frequently drunk Nathan.
Whilst Caleb is conducting his sessions with Ava he finds himself developing feelings towards her. Will Ava return these feelings? Is she even able to? After all, the true test is whether Ava can pass for human even though Caleb knows she is not.
Ava warns Caleb not to trust Nathan – but why not? Who can be trusted?
This is an absorbing film which poses questions around how much of our own personal information and even humanity we share with machines whilst we are online… who may be collecting such data and what they might choose to do with it… what it is that makes us human, etc. This is more of a psychological drama in a way, certainly it’s not your standard action based sci-fi movie.
Visually, it’s excellent – the Norwegian landscapes where the scenes around Nathan’s home were filmed are stunning, the interior designs are very good and the rendering of Ava is superb.
The ending is a little ambiguous but I think that it is alluding to just how well the A.I. is able to adapt – even if that means adopting some of humanity’s worst traits – but I could be wrong, as I think there’s plenty of room for interpretation! Definitely a film worthy of watching and pondering over…