It took me a while to finally watch Ex Machina but with no reason because the movie was a thrilling and an interesting experience. Based on a thoughtful script by Alex Garland, and filled with subtle and beautifully simple cinematography, Ex Machina explores and succeeds to show the psychological aspect of science.
Ex Machina starts with Domnhall Gleeson’s character Caleb winning an opportunity to participate in an experiment of a lifetime: communicating with an artificial intelligence to determine whether she is more than a machine. But before Caleb meets Ava (Alicia Vikander), the machine in question, he gets to know Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the scientist behind the experiment, who is very secretive and isolated from the world. After Caleb is trusted with the task at hand, he gets to meet Ava for the first time and then the plot really starts to unravel. And the way the relationships evolve, the friendships blossom and the interactions reveal secrets, desires and lies, is simply astonishing.
What I appreciated the most about Ex Machina was its script – it was well written not just in terms of the topic it tackled but how it built tension between the characters. And well, I’m just going to get right to it, the ending was the bomb! Sure, part of me feared something like that would happen, though I didn’t really want it to happen but it made so much sense for the plot. Though I honestly didn’t expect to feel so frustrated, so gutted and so betrayed at the same time. If it weren’t for the ending, I think Ex Machina wouldn’t have such an impact, but frankly, I think Alex Garland purposely created distractions for the viewer throughout the movie, in order to elevate the ending.
Granted, a lot of the success behind the movie itself is also the way the script was delivered by Gleeson and Vikander. The interaction between their characters was the core of Ex Machina, and if it weren’t for their chemistry, the emotional connection would have been almost non-existent. And frankly, I was surprised how much I enjoyed Vikander’s performance – she delivered a close to perfect character, and most importantly, I believed her, as did Gleeson’s character.
Visually, the movie exuded simplicity, with Nathan’s home being very modern and clean. The dance sequence, Ex Machina’s most iconic scene, was brilliant and I especially enjoyed its red and purple hues together with the song Get Down Saturday Night – fucking amazing! Not to mention the fact that I keep wondering on how many different meanings that scene alone creates – not just for Nathan, or for Caleb, but also for Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno).
With such a good script, and a simple set design, Ex Machina is a stripped down version of every other science-fiction movie about artificial intelligence – and it’s a better one because it doesn’t cloud itself with science, but focuses on the psychological aspect. Taking place in a single house, and having almost no need for gimmicks and fancy CGI, Ex Machina sets itself apart and succeeds wonderfully by raising questions for further discussion on the topics related to artificial intelligence.