An understated thrill ride into the world of AI
RELEASED January 21st



This intense psychological thriller has been on the tips of the film elite's tongues since the first teaser images were released way back when. The past year has seen various other AI films, but where many have lacked in an area that is most fascinating, and mind-bending, Ex Machina makes up for.

Written and directed by Alex Garland, Ex Machina follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a 24-year-old coder at the world's largest internet company, as he wins a competition to spend a week at a retreat belonging to the company's reclusive CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). When Caleb arrives, he finds that he will have to participate in a fascinating experiment with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot woman, Ava (Alicia Vikander). Truths, emotions and motives are blurred as the relationship between Caleb, Ava and Nathan intensifies.

Playing on the Latin expression, 'deus ex machina' – meaning god from machine – this thought-provoking film delivers the ultimate question: can a machine think? And, ultimately, how can you be sure that it is self-aware, and not merely a projection of your own thoughts and emotions?


Gleeson follows on from his stint in Channel 4's equally powerful Black Mirror: Be Right Back, where he played Ash, a robotic reincarnation, and now is on the flip side of the equation. Perhaps, not as strong an actor to go up against the seemingly infallible Oscar Isaac, Gleeson plays a naïve young coder well, easily manipulated by the apparent innocence of Ava.


Isaac takes to his villain with ease, as we watch a self-made man spiral into overindulgence, drunk on his own power of god-like capabilities, not to mention the odd vodka shot. Nathan lacks in emotional attachment to his subjects, and plays both Caleb and his creations to detrimental effect.


Lastly, Alicia Vikander, the who's who in the current stock of rising stars, plays Ava almost to perfection. Mixing the perfect balance of innocence, resentment, childlike curiosity, and prisoner, her subtle performance slowly works its way under your skin, leading you to question, just as Caleb does, what it really means to be alive.


Whilst there are some areas to be desired, Ex Machina is a refreshingly understated thrill ride into the much-loved world of artificial intelligence.




Words by Louise Robina Happé.




What do you think of Ex Machina? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments section, below.

“Alicia Vikander plays Ava to perfection.”

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