Ex Machina (2015) is a sci-fi drama about the talented computer programmer named Caleb. He is fortunate enough to win a competition in his office, and gets to spend one-on-one time with the eccentric and secluded CEO of his company. Caleb gets to help out with a special project in the field of artificial intelligence, and his assignment is to determine whether or not the CEO’s home-built android passes the Turing Test. Passing the test would mean that its responses should be indistinguishable from that of a human being, and what he finds during this trial touches, in a way, questions on the essence of humanity. What does it take to be human? Is it having flesh and bones, or could a sufficiently accurate computer simulation be enough?
The movie is riddled with stunning visuals and an acute attention to detail. While being a sci-fi movie, do not expect lasers or over the top special effects like other movies from the modern-day sci-fi genre like I, Robot. What you will get instead is something quite beautiful; carefully though-out environments, futuristic although fully plausible decors and interiors. Moon comes to mind as having similar aesthetics, while still retaining the futuristic feeling.
The story is fairly well-paced, except for a couple of scenes which could have been played out a bit quicker without removing anything from the story. Ex Machina is not a fast movie by any means, but if artificial intelligence is an interest, you will be hooked until the very end.
The movie is for the most part dialogue-driven, which is the main reason for the seemingly slow progression. The dialogue itself is on the other hand well thought out and goes from causal and funny, to sexy and even deadly serious in one swift move. The movie provides a large amount of dynamic range between the different characters; the interviewer and the interviewee exchange their vulnerability through brittle and soft words, while the CEO is loud and aggressive.
Even though the movies gets a lot of things right, there are plenty of plot holes and weird storylines1, which makes the movie not live up to its true potential. Had there been better story writers, this could have become something truly special, but it barely scratches the surface of a great movie on artificial intelligence in its current form.
Taking everything I have mentioned into consideration, I still think that this is a movie worth seeing if you are into the sci-fi genre and artificial intelligence in particular. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it still contains enough of the essence to be interesting.
Score: 7/10 (Good)
SPOILER: Why did they not continue exploring the fact that Caleb thought of himself as an android? That would have made the story progress to a whole new level. ↩