As I watched this movie, one thought kept occurring to me: This is what A.I. might have looked like had Stanley Kubrick directed it himself. Despite my feelings toward both Kubrick and to Spielberg’s flawed version of A.I., I knew this thought wasn’t a bad thing, or at least I wasn’t associating it with a criticism of Ex Machina. And it certainly wasn’t a knock against Alex Garland, who makes his directorial debut here.
No, in fact, it was quite the opposite.
This is a film that deals with artificial intelligence in a realistic and frank manner that is rarely seen onscreen. It’s not an action movie about cybernetic machines sent back in time to take over the world, and it’s not a look at the distant future of what society will become if we don’t change course immediately.
Rather, it’s a movie about now. It’s about the birth of something, not the death of it, and that is quite refreshing.
Domhnall Gleeson plays Caleb, a programmer who wins a contest at his company and is given the chance to take part in a top secret experiment. He is to live with his extremely eccentric CEO, Nathan (played by Oscar Issac) for a week and determine if the artificial intelligence system Nathan has created could ever pass itself off as human. This system is in the form of a beautiful woman named Ava (Alicia Vikander) and Caleb is immediately drawn to her, more so than he could ever imagine. To say more would spoil this beautiful film for you, so I’ll just leave if at that.
Everything comes together incredibly well. The writing is as amazing as the intriguing effects and, on a surprising note, there’s actually quite a bit of humor. That’s something these types of movies don’t usually have and maybe that’s why they often drown in their own bleakness.
Definitely check if out, especially if you were let down by the wasted potential of A.I.