There are not many directors or writers who speak to the viewer through the context, subject matters, or ideas that are translated to film. Alex Garland is one of those thinking filmmakers who gives himself enough time to write something that will blow people`s minds. And it happens, not because of the subject matter, but because of his delicate attention to the entire process. He ensures that once it goes out it will be remembered and discussed by many people long afterwards. Alex Garland`s EX MACHINA speaks to the audience very clearly and loudly, in a very genuine way.
Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) is chosen by Nathan (Oscar Isaac), CEO of the company, to spend one week with him at his private mountain. After he arrives at this secret place, Caleb finds out that he has been chosen to participate in an experiment – to test an artificial intelligence in the body of a very attractive girl named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Caleb has one week to identify whether the prototype has passed its test, or must be replaced by a new version. By the time Caleb gets close to Ava, he realizes that he is no longer treating her like a machine, but more like a human being. Does it mean that Nathan has created something that can change the history of humanity, or is it just another doomed project by an ambitious billionaire?
Ex Machina is one of the films that has no specific weak spot. It`s a pure masterpiece just the way it is. Garland masterfully holds the entire plot in his hands and gives us just enough information to ensure that we won`t get overloaded. This gives the viewer a chance to analyze the information while it`s delivered throughout the film. In the scene where Caleb and Nathan discuss this opportunity that can change the World, Garland leaves it up to Caleb to decide whether to tell the eccentric billionaire if he may be playing God. It is almost impossible to hold onto the delicious part of the film and not give it away in my review. But there is something I am certain I must bring to your attention.
The dialogue between Caleb and Ava, where he tests her, is brilliant. However, every time when you look at Ava`s face, you see that at some point, there is something that triggers a human emotion in her mind which makes you think – is this machine capable of feeling, loving, or caring about someone? Every time Caleb attends a testing session, it`s a joy for our eyes to see how he handles every single scene, while Ava does her part as best as she can. She shows us, that under the right circumstances, even a machine can feel something and give more than it was programmed to give.
Oscar Isaac`s performance is something that must be written in a separate review, where it will allow me to talk about his unique charm, and unprecedented approach to every film he appears in. Ex Machina is a sci-fi/psy-fi thriller from the author of Sunshine and 28 Days Later, who once again takes a controversial look into the not too distant future, which is very disturbing and scary, but also, very educational and provocative. Most viewers, after watching this film, will form their own opinion about what exactly Garland is trying to tell us this time. However, I think he clearly shows that playing God by creating a machine that can replace a human being, is a dangerous mission, and must be stopped before it’s too late. Because, it does not matter how smart human beings are, the information we load into computers or transfer to an artificial mind is most certainly more than our brains can handle, and that is an advantage that should never be given to a machine, or a robot, that is created by human beings.
Before you get to watch Ex Machina, refrain from buying a pop-corn, because Garland`s masterpiece will keep you away from your treat and make you watch the entire film with such attention, as if you are about to pass a very important exam.
The film opens May 1 in Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria, and May 8 in Montreal, with other cities to follow.