johnlink ranks EX MACHINA (2015)

Been wanting to see this one pretty much since I heard about it. I love small-jump science fiction. The kind of stuff set in the near future where mankind has made a small (but believable) leap in technology. These films are usually smaller scale, just a few characters, and tightly made. Heard EX MACHINA was no exception, and was glad to finally get a chance to get at it.


I watched EX MACHINA (2015) on 1.7.16. It was my first viewing of the film.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a young coder who wins a prize to visit the owner of a major tech company in order to complete a mysterious task. The owner of the company is the young, reclusive, eccentric Nathan (Oscar Isaac). The task is to engage in a Turing Test with Nathan’s A.I. creation, Ava (Alicia Vikander).

What is odd about the situation (well, one of the odd components) is that a Turing Test – by definition – is supposed to be done with the questioner not knowing that the test subject is a computer. In this scenario, however, Nathan is confident that Ava can easily complete that portion of the exam. What he really wants to know is just how deeply Caleb will connect with Ava despite knowing she is a creation.

This movie plays out in a really satisfying way, even if the ending won’t be for everyone. The increasing relationship between Ava and Caleb is interesting to watch. We know she is a robotic, yet the movie manipulates our feelings. We are voters with Caleb and, even though Ava is not presented as a sexual being in the traditional sense, the movie takes a provocative look at what it takes for something (or someone) to be desirable.


The visuals of EX MACHINA, directed by Alex Garland from his own script, are beautiful despite the claustrophobic nature of 90% of the movie taking place inside of Nathan’s house. The creation of the Ava character is magnificent not in the believable special effects and in the very real performance by Alicia Vikander. We can see that she is manipulative, but we also can see she is vulnerable. The movie does a wonderful job at walking a line wherein we know things are going to go poorly for Caleb at some point, but we aren’t sure whether it will come from Ava or Nathan. In that way, all of these actors do a solid job of telling a story which seems in danger of being overly predictable, but has enough surprises to keep us honest.

There is, for example, a pretty early test put to the audience in terms of who in the movie is real and who may be a robot themselves. The manner in which Garland allows this paranoia (or not) to play out is smart writing and smart filmmaking.


The ending feels a little too easy for me. It’s now wholly satisfying, and it also seems to drive the theme of the movie in a pretty sharp direction. This is not to suggest that it is bad, or that it is wrong. It just didn’t hit me as hard as I think it was intended.

But, despite that small thing, EX MACHINA is a really solid film and a really entertaining piece of near-future science-fiction. Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys this genre.



Bonus point is for the character creation of Ava. Really beautiful example of special effects and acting coming together to tell a unified story.


FINAL SCORE: 7.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on January 8, 2016.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks EX MACHINA (2015)”

  1. I really can’t think of a way they could have ended that film. i think it’s perfect

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