Ex Machina is going to be picked apart. This is of course a "independent sci-fi thriller" prerequisite, after all, isn't it? But after the dogs feed on the last scraps of argument, what will be left will be the film itself to stand the test of time for the years to come.
Ex Machina starts out innocently enough. Wiz-kid Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) sits at a desk and his computer screen lets him know he has been the lucky recipient of a prize; to go and meet the owner of the company he works for (Blue-Book). Blue Book essentially being Google, Nasa, and Microsoft all rolled into one nice monopoly.
After a hefty helicopter ride, some beautiful scenery and a quick cut scene with the pilot he meets Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the owner of Blue-Book in a secluded hideaway lab/home in the hills. Immediately we can conclude that Nathan is a bit different from the portrayal of consistent hangovers, exchanging verbal body blows and his indifference and sometimes downright flawed attitude towards the one other "person" in his life, Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), a sometimes maid, sometimes partner, sometimes slave of a woman who very obviously has some mystery behind the illustrious eyes she bares.
The film moves quickly overall but each act's specific dialogue and furthering of the core story take their time. As I left the theater tonight, I kept thinking about the words that writer Alex Garland used so eloquently throughout the film. The dialogue, especially between Nathan and Caleb was dripping with hints of romantic enthrallment of science in and of itself, yet it sang like a note held vocally over the abyss of an orchestra. It dazzled without being centric and allowed the actors to breathe.
A review reader should not be blasted with plot points and spoilers as they deserve that experience for themselves. I think the trailer in and of itself allows one to know the main plot which is really a simple question. "Where does life begin and where does it end?" That said, it is accompanied by many other questions that evolve out of the pureness of the tone of the film. Can we create a human being is one of those questions. But the other important question scientifically that Ex Machina asks is will that creation have consciousness. It strives to answer that question repeatedly.
I would be remiss to not discuss the performance by Alicia Vikander, who plays the creation herself, AVA. She is seductive and engaging, Sweet and colorful, and in the end ruthless and unforgiving. Interesting that the actress can give all these emotions to a character who may not even have her own spirit, intelligence or consciousness. She is without a doubt the most seamless thing on the screen for the entire hour and fifty minutes.
Again, begin your comparisons to "Moon", "Love", "A.I.", and all the rest, in the end there won't be one, for this is what true filmmaking, imagery, and thought become when love is invested like it must have been in making this film.
See this film.