Dir: Alex Garland (2015)
Novelist and Danny Boyle‘s right hand man Alex Garland finally crushes his concerns with this beautiful and terrible world into one slick, precise and measured science fiction film which asks some incredibly timely questions about our own technological future. Domhnall Gleeson continues his run of stellar choices playing Caleb, a shy genius level programmer invited by his company’s reclusive CEO, Nathan played with a seductive slyness by Oscar Isaac. His secluded modernist compound houses his greatest achievement yet; Ava, a beautiful (and beautifully designed) AI robot played with poise by Alicia Vikander who must be Turing tested by this nervous outsider.
Isaac’s turn as the shaved bearded drunkard Nathan is the intense centre of the film, ready to fly of the spindle at any moment. Gleeson has the perfect aura of naivety and intelligence to make his scenes with both Isaac and Vikander feel almost schizophrenic in comparison to each other; His testing and and attraction of and to Ava contradicting the job he’s there to do. Garland’s scripts for The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd all in some way deal with a societal break down be it within a utopian island community, onboard a spaceship, in the empty streets of a post apocalyptic England, in a weirdly warped faux-past or a crime infested futuristic Megacity.
Ex Machina does the same but within the clean lined, well designed iWorld in which we almost live. Are our own inventions to serve us or are we to serve them? It’s a basic genre question but remarkably well handled by Garland as Caleb, Nathan and Ava all get to know what makes each other tick. It’s a vicious and intense blend of booze, jealousy and megalomania and one which cynically handles our relationship with technology in a very interesting way indeed.