Ex Machina – A Triumph

Ex Machina - A Triumph

Not since 2001: A Space Odyssey has a film made such giant leaps for man vs. technology conflict in science fiction, until now. I say this because Ex Machina’s robot, Ava, is essentially an Apple update of the iconic and demonic computer HAL 9000 from 2001. Both films were vastly ahead of their time, 2001 proving that our society would be a slave to technology in the near future, Ex Machina proving that our society is and will continue to be blinded by it. Moreover, the story of Ex Machina is riveting, intellectually stimulating, and constantly has you asking questions, double crossing yourself while your own mind has a blast playing tricks on you.


Set in the very near future, the story follows Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson, who wins a contest to spend an entire week working alongside a wealthy genius, Nathan, creator of the most dominant internet search engine in the world. Nathan, fervently portrayed by Oscar Isaac, is, from the start, not very promising. He has big plans for Caleb in their seven days together, and while he seems to have everything together, signs show early on that you should not share his confidence.


The big plans, of course, involve a Turing test, a test that measures whether or not true artificial intelligence has been created. Essentially, for an invention to pass a Turing test, it has to convince a human that it’s not just a piece of technology, and that it is capable of feeling and understanding things beyond a mechanical level. Nathan has created Ava, the robot featured on the poster of the film, and while you know in your head that she is no human, the film will make you question your own instincts, as I mentioned before.


Alicia Vikander gives a beautiful performance as Ava, one that sends chills down my spine just writing about. But the real gem in Ex Machina is the story. The plot is dense, but perfectly digestible. The film is set up in a way that constantly causes you to be asking questions, which are answered one at a time. Only seconds later do you realize that the more you know, the more you don’t know.


The sound editing is astounding, crescendos harmonized with the exponential growth of thought-question-theory-answer-craving-stew imbuing your head, first slowly, then all at once, until it explodes. If Ex Machina isn’t a jewel of the big screen, I’m not sure what is.


Of course there have been hallmark science fiction films since 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968 (side note, that was a year before we actually got to the moon). Such films include Inception, E. T., and The Terminator. However, I feel that Ex Machina is the only science fiction film to make as great a stride in man vs. technology conflict. And yes, I’m aware that The Terminator was a robot.


Ex Machina will astound you with its ability to simultaneously trick you and engage you, using enticing nibbles to draw you into a mind trap time and time again, disobeying your own unconscious will. It is a great victory for the genre of science fiction, and man vs. technology conflict. I absolutely recommend it.