‘Ex Machina’ is a film about a Turing test. That is – a test employed in which a human interrogator is tasked to communicate with a machine to determine whether or not the machine has artificial intelligence. If the machine “fools” the interrogator, then the test is passed.
Now, prior to receiving a copy of ‘Ex Machina’ I was completely unaware of exactly what the film was about.
I had seen the trailer, and thus knew that the subject matter would revolve around an android – but other than that, I went into it blind. What the film offered was an artful and intelligent tour that posed simple questions on a topic without simple answers. Can artificial intelligence be created, and how can you tell?
The film centers around protagonist and accomplished programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) and his interactions with Ava (Alicia Vikander), an advanced and seductive android; while spending a week in relative isolation at the remote estate of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), A brilliant programmer and Caleb’s employer.
Over the course of this stay, the interactions between the characters (both human and machine) begin to introduce doubt to the viewer as to who – or what – is actually in control of the aforementioned test.
‘Ex Machina’ is a quiet film with subtle pacing and lends itself well to the genre and the performances do an excellent job of carrying the film along. The most impressive of which was offered from Alicia Vikander whose portrayal of Ava was excellently balanced – not so robotic that you had to consciously suspend disbelief, and not so human that the illusion the film sought to portray was shattered.
Overall, ‘Ex Machina’ is tense and claustrophobic Sci-Fi that should appeal to fans of the genre that are looking for something other than UFOs and exploding planets. It is a thought provoking character study that grapples with the morality of creation while remaining – at it’s heart – human.