Starring: Domnhall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Issac, Sonoya Mizuno
Directed By: Alex Garland
What a great, trippy sci-fi sleeper. It’s amazing that great sci-fi can be made without going to other planets, blowing shit up, or involving aliens. Sometimes, putting three terrific actors in a house and putting some big questions on the table is all you need.
What makes a person? What makes a true artificial intelligence? What is love? What does it mean to feel? These are all questions asked in Ex Machina, which features a tech developer (Issac) inviting an employee of his (Gleeson) to his house for a week for a secret project. The project? To determine if Ava (Vikander) is true artificial intelligence. There’s a great dynamic between Gleeson and Issac, and Vikander really has an exceptional breakthrough performance. I’m excited to see more from her in the future. She understands what it means for Ava to feel new, and to feel like she’s really feeling new experiences but avoids doing so with annoying childlike wonder. It would have been easy to make Ava a child, but to make her an adult experiencing these things for the first time presents a greater challenge for her as an actress. She’s smart, yet everything is new to her.
In a year that’s been pretty great for science fiction so far, Ex Machina is certain to be remembered at the end of the year for awards consideration. It has one of the most daringly original scripts of the year, in addition to some fantastic performances. Director Alex Garland is likely to be handed the keys to some major summer blockbuster the same way a lot of these new directors were recruited from similar indie projects. I’m excited for him and the possibilities. He knows how to craft a stellar story where his lead characters live in morally grey areas. Who is the hero? Who is the villain? Is anyone either?
Featuring a rather heartbreaking ending, Ex Machina is definitely one of the best films of the year. It’s out now on video, so be sure to catch it. This is definitely one you won’t want to miss.
FINAL GRADE: A