It has gotten to the point that every time I see the ‘A24’ studio logo, I get just a little bit more excited for the movie that I’m about to see. A24 has been investing in some of the best independent cinema lately, and even when the movies aren’t great, they’re always at least risky and interesting, and I respect them for that. I didn’t know much about Ex Machina (other than that it was sci-fi and getting huge buzz) before I saw it, but when I saw the ‘A24’ logo, I knew I was in for a treat.
The story is very intriguing. A coder named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) has won a competition within his work to spend a week in a retreat with the company’s CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Once there, Nathan shares with Caleb what he has been working on: a female robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Nathan engages Caleb in various experiments over the following week to test whether or not Caleb can be convinced that Ava is a human instead of a robot. Ex Machina talks a lot about the role of technology in our lives as well as potential consequences, but does what good sci-fi is supposed to do, and explores these themes without seeming too preachy.
Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, who have collectively appeared in every single indie film in the past two years, finally star together, and it’s glorious. They’re both so charismatic and play so well together. It’s heavily debateable as to who is stealing the show. Alicia Vikander gives a remarkably subtle performance as a robot that makes you question everything about everything. Ex Machina is both written and directed by Alex Garland, who has had a lot of experience writing for Danny Boyle, and a lot of that style translates over to this film.
The problems that I had with the film are very minimal. The special effects, while absolutely astounding for the most part, falter minimally when it comes to the style and strength of the skin. There are a couple minor pacing issues I had with the film, as well as a couple times where the script grew too redundant for my liking. This is Alex Garland’s directorial debut however, and I’m interested in seeing where his career progresses. Ex Machina is mind-blowing and crazy engaging, and I’d highly recommend it. 8/10.